David White's user avatar
David White's user avatar
David White's user avatar
David White
  • Member for 3 months
  • Last seen more than a month ago
About

I am debating leaving Math Overflow. I joined as a PhD student many years ago, and MO was a useful way to learn, to practice doing research, to practice writing, and to get some name recognition. Unfortunately, in recent years, MO has started to turn into a nastier place. My bad experiences started in 2020 when I wrote the following answer, which advocated for an ICM special lecture regarding issues of diversity, equity, and inclusivity in mathematics: https://mathoverflow.net/questions/368463/suggestions-for-special-lectures-at-next-icm/368467#368467. The resulting backlash (and a long conversation in an "MO chatroom") revealed a lot of deep biases and aggressive behavior. Since then, a lot of my contributions have been met with more backlash than before, including snarky and mean comments (which the writer then deletes), and many more downvotes on my contributions than before. I've noticed that this bad behavior often comes from mobs of anonymous users and very low-reputation users whose history of contributions shows that they are not research mathematicians working as professors. I'm stubborn, and I have a thick skin, so I kept contributing, mostly trying to help junior researchers. But lately, it struck me that this kind of bad behavior is part of the reason that MO has a big problem with diversity. Specifically, MO has very few female users, and mathematicians from under-represented groups (e.g., black, latino) are barely represented on MO at all. To anyone reading this, I would not want my history of contributions on the site to suggest that I agree with or support the kind of nasty behaviors here that drive people away. I hope to decide in the coming months if the pros of the site (especially, helping junior researchers) outweigh the cons (the fact that this site is damaging to efforts to make math more welcoming and inclusive). Below is my old profile text. At this point, if you have a question that you think I can answer, you should email me instead of asking it on MO.

I am an associate professor at Denison University, where I teach courses and do research in mathematics, computer science, and statistics. In math, I'm mostly interested in questions involving (semi) model categories, Bousfield localization, and algebras over (colored) operads. I like to apply my work to unstable, stable, equivariant, and motivic homotopy theory, to homological algebra, and to representation theory. In computer science, I think about graph theory, randomized algorithms, streaming computation, genetic algorithms, data science, and data systems. In applied statistics, I've done research (often with students) related to the opioid epidemic, policing and protests, gun violence, and a host of other topics. I've also begun to dabble in economics, biostatistics, and pedagogical research, thanks to my co-authors. In my spare time, I travel as much as possible. As of 2023, I've visited 143 countries and published 31 papers and a book.

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