Boundary Conditions, the theme for our meeting in Philadelphia next January, will provide the convention not with a focus but with a set of challenges. For mathematicians, boundary conditions are the parameters that define the space within which one seeks solutions. So the theme offers, first, an invitation to reflect together on the parameters within which our profession takes place. One of the most evident of these is the increasing pressure we face to abandon the ideal of a college education that prepares you not only for success at work but also for a meaningful life. And that’s what I’d like to write to you about, briefly, in my first president’s column.
As our convention in Austin approaches, I’ve been reflecting on our profession as I have observed it from the vantage of president of the world’s largest scholarly organization. My three previous columns noted several of the important initiatives that the MLA has recently begun and will continue. . . .
A few weeks ago, my twin teenage daughters gave me a lesson in how to talk to Siri, the female ghost in my new smartphone. “Ask her a question,” said Marianne. I couldn’t think what to ask, so Christina intervened: “Tell her to make a joke.” Seeing that I still didn’t get it, Christina prompted Siri, and she responded with unnerving speed: “Past, Present, and Future met in a bar. It was tense.”