A.M.'s Myth and Folklore Blog

Myth and Folklore ML-3043-996

Introduction to Me

Hi everyone. (There’s really nothing quite so awkward as introducing yourself online, but here goes nothing.)

My name is Alby, and I’m from Denver, CO. I’m in my final year here at OU, and I’ll be graduating at the end of the Spring semester with a B.S. in Math. UsuallyMy OU jazz combo, people’s first reaction when they hear “math” is to ask whether I’m planning to go into teaching. That is, of course, important, but I think it’s a symptom of people misunderstanding what math really is. Math is the study of structure and symmetry, form and reasoning. Math isn’t about numbers or “solve for x,” though that’s sadly all most people ever see of it. Rather, it’s about building things, but out of concepts instead of wood or Lego.

Math also isn’t just a theoretical endeavor, or something disconnected from practical application. The shape of all ideas — even, and actually particularly aesthetic, artistic, and philosophical ones — can be found in the shape of ideas in math, even if not in its formalisms or notation. I want to apply that math, and not just simplistic number crunching, to real world problems. Math lets us understand the objects we model and observe, and I’ve applied mathematical tools in research and projects to fields as varied as materials science, biochemistry, atmospheric science, arachnology, and music. Finding the symmetries and analogies between those fields through math is one of my favorite things.

Outside of school, I love music — listening and (more than anything) playing. I play drumset, every kind of random percussion, and I’m teaching myself the accordion. Jazz is my main genre these days, but I love to play almost anything and with anyone. (The picture I’ve included is of my jazz combo here at OU, Diminishing Returns. We play all kinds of jazz, traditional to funk fusion to Latin. We gig around the school and Norman in general; keep an eye out for us at campus events. If anyone’s interested — or needs concerts for Understanding Music/History of Jazz — I’d be happy to post performance dates somewhere here as I have them.)

(I was also the drummer/sound engineer/co-producer for an album, I to I, and am in the process of working on another.)

I also love literature, to read, to write, and to play with language. I was lucky enough to take Indian Epics (the version of this class with different readings from the Indian epic poems) last semester, and I’m excited to be able to do it again this semester with Laura and with all of you!

32 Comments

  1. It is so nice meeting people a second time around, Alby! The first time it’s all so overwhelming (so many names, majors, interests, etc.) … and I had forgotten about your music side! So yes, please, keep me posted on your performance dates. I would be so glad to include that in the announcements (the best events are the ones actually connected with students in the class). I wish I were in Norman so that I could come listen! My dad is a huge jazz fan, and music is what has really kept him going during a long illness; Sidney Bechet is his favorite, but he’s got some pretty wide-ranging interests, and I’ve learned a lot the past couple of years listening to music with him. And that is so cool about learning the accordion! One of my when-I-retire things to do is to learn how to play the harmonium, which is kind of similar: harmonium at Wikipedia; it’s popular in Indian kirtan singing: Harmonium Guru. And your description of math is beautiful… of course arachnology got my attention. Are we talking spider webs? Anyway, it sounds very cool! The myth of Arachne shows up in Ovid’s Metamorphoses 5-7 in the UnTextbook. 🙂

    • admin

      August 19, 2019 at 11:00 pm

      Laura,
      Nice to be met by you again! 🙂

      I’ll definitely keep you up to date with performances if anyone is interested.

      Music can really keep people going, it’s true. I’m sorry about your father; wishing you and yours all the best.

      The harmonium is quite something, it really feels like something from another world!

      – A.M.

  2. Madeleine Patovisti

    August 20, 2019 at 11:01 pm

    Alby,
    I was very intrigued by your description of what math really is; for the longest time I have gone through life loathing math because I am so bad at it. I have always thought of it as just finding x, picking shapes, or using coordinate planes.. all of which I dread doing. Recently I have been studying to take the GRE graduate exam in order to go to grad school for clinical psychology, and I have to admit it has helped me look at math in a completely different light, like you have discussed in your post. It has taught me many strategies for solving problems that are not only explicitly helpful for solely math problems. This is a very interesting thing to think about!

  3. Hi Alby!

    I’m also a senior, and I’ve never met another math major outside of one of my math classes! I also always get the “so do you want to teach?” question. This gets a little tedious at times, but I love how you describe math as way more than just “solve for x” problems, because I completely agree. It’s so broad and you can do literally anything with it. It’s also so cool how you can play so many different instruments! I wish I could just casually teach myself how to play the accordion. I can play a little bit of the piano (not really), but my number one love is dance. Being a dancer, I also love all different kinds of music, jazz especially.

  4. Hi Alby! That’s so cool that you’re from Denver. I always love traveling to Colorado – Telluride, Breckenridge and Golden are some of my favorite places I’ve been. I was supposed to go to Morrison for a concert at Red Rocks this summer but wasn’t able to go last minute and I was so upset! Similar to what other people have said, I loved how you described math as well! I’ve never been decent at math myself but you made it sound so intriguing and now at 1am I want to do math for some reason lol. I hope your final year goes well and everything! 🙂

  5. Hi Alby!
    First and foremost love the name. I wish my parents had been creative and named me something a little less generic.
    Second I think all the music stuff is really cool and interesting. I am incredibly fascinated by music and art in general, and I am always looking for new things to listen to. I will check out your album and report back to you! I think you have a great writing style and a unique voice. I found your description of math and aesthetics really interesting. I’ve been getting into jazz recently and would love to check out any thing you think is essential to the genre. I’ve been exploring more of the funk side for now.

  6. Hey, Alby! How awesome is it that we have the same class? I’m excited about your spring graduation (congratulations)! Can’t say that I’m the biggest fan of math, but I will admit that it is a vital tool, and I’m glad that you are able to see the beauty in it. If you have any cool aesthetically pleasing or artistic diagrams, let me know, because I’m all about art! Which reminds me, we have to talk about our favorite jazz bands outside of class, okay? Anyways, I’m very excited to read your upcoming blog posts for mythology and folklore. Until then, take care!

  7. Hey Alby,
    I thought your perspective and definition of math was borderline poetic. I am studying electrical engineering, which means I am one math class away from a math minor. Math was what gave me the confidence to pursue electrical engineering. I think people often misunderstand and assume the only thing someone can do with it is teach, but I am confident that whatever you choose to do with it will be great.

  8. Hey Alby! It’s nice to see a familiar face (screenname) on here! First of all – I had no idea you were graduating this year. Whatever will OU do without Diminishing Returns! Also, leave it to a musician to explain math in the only way that’s ever made sense to me. Keep me in the loop on your performances this semester, I definitely want to come support when I’m free!

  9. Akansha Chandrasekar

    September 16, 2019 at 3:10 am

    Hey Alby! It’s so refreshing to see someone who has found their passion in math. I had a friend in high school who was adamant about the beauty of math and he, like you, went on to pursue a degree in it. It’s been almost three years since I last took a math-heavy course so I had grown disillusioned about it in that time. Reading your introduction reminded me that I used to really enjoy doing math once. I hope you have a great semester and good luck with all your performances with your band!

  10. Hey Alby, really enjoyed getting to know you through your introduction post! I’m also a senior here at OU, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not loving the idea of getting a job soon. I wish I could stay in college for just a few more months (or years). Math was definitely my favorite subject in high school, but I never had a passion to pursue a career in the field. I think it’s awesome that you found that interest, though!

  11. Hi Alby!

    I had the pleasure of taking Indian Epics with Laura last semester too! Of course, I enjoyed the class so much I took this class as well. I think your major is pretty interesting. I like that you clarified Math is not just solving for x and other misconceptions about it. Math is so much more! Thanks you for letting us know! I hope you have a wonderful time in this class!

  12. Hi Alby!
    I have heard that proficiency in math and music often go hand in hand. It kinda makes sense because music is very structured like math and then all of the examples of people like you! I also too Indian Epics with Laura last semester and look we are all back. I think that says something about the class and Laura!

  13. Hi Alby!

    I too am in my final year at OU and will also be graduating in the spring. It is so crazy how fast time flies! I think that it is so interesting why you want to go into the mathematical field. To be honest, I never really thought of math as anything other than number crunching but your story has given me a new perspective! I never realized the depth that mathematics truly has! I think it is wonderful that you want to use talent in math for the bigger picture; I admire that! I look forward to reading your stories!

  14. How many times have you heard this: You’re a math major? Wow, you must be smart!
    More seriously, I remember thinking of math as a bunch of random equations to plug numbers into. However, after I’ve taken some physics and learned more concepts, I’ve learned that math is beyond finding the x. I’ve learned more about where the equations come from and how someone creates formulas to explain the world around us. I’m too intimidated by math to pursue it as a major, but I deeply respect you for choosing it.

  15. Hi Alby!

    I also really enjoy Math and see the potential of mathematics majors so I definitely see where you’re coming from. I don’t think it could have been putter any more eloquently than you put it, so cudos to you. I am also a huge fan of music, though I never developed any talents I might or might not have had. It’s really cool that you perform as well, not only does that take talent but it also takes a lot of courage. Good luck with your performances and your writing this semester.

  16. Hi Alby,

    I respect you a lot for majoring in math! It’s not everyone’s strong suit, mine included, and for you to have developed such a great understanding of it is wonderful! I liked the pictures you added on the website, it’s cool that you’re able to play an instrument! Good luck this semester and with future performances!

    -Marissa

    • I also forgot to add that you’re super lucky to have taken one Professor Gibbs’ courses before. This is my first and unfortunately will be my last.
      -Marissa

  17. Hi Alby!
    I love how you have such an intense passion for math. It is so special to have such an unique perspective on a seemingly simple topic from the outside. Also, I think it’s awesome that you have a passion for music which balances out your contrasting other analytic interests. I love jazz music, and I often listen to the genre when I am working on schoolwork.

  18. Hi Alby! I loved your introduction. I appreciated your explanation on all that a math major entail. I definitely can agree why people are so quick to think that math majors are going to teach. I think there is a big misunderstanding and more people need to take time to understand what it all about. That is cool that you had the chance to take the Indian Epics class last semester and now you’re in this class!

  19. Alby,
    I have to say I loved reading your introduction. It was not awkward at all. The way you spoke about math was lovely. I can tell you are very passionate about it. I love to write and copy edit. I work at The OU Daily as a copy editor. I enjoy making sure everything is in its place and it factual. I am also a senior, but I graduate this fall. It is both exciting and nerve-wracking. I love to read as well! What is your favorite book? Mine is “Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss. If you like fantasy you should give it a go. Thank you for sharing!

  20. Hey Alby! I love that your so passionate about math, and that you get to study it here. It’s definitely a challenging subject, and not one many people are very good at, so I’m glad you’re so dedicated! I’m a senior this year too! It’s such an exciting but stressful time, that’s for sure! Good luck with the class this semester, and good luck with everything in the future!

  21. Hi Alby!

    Denver is one of my favorite cities, I think it’s awesome that you’re from there. I love how you describe math, it was very compelling to read. My younger brother also wants to be a math major and feels the same way as you. I also play drums, though I’m sure you’re much better. It’s awesome that you’ve worked on an album, that’s so neat! Have a great rest of your semester.

    -Derek

  22. Hi Alby!

    The way you talk about math makes it sound so interesting. I personally got easily frustrated in math when it moves beyond the realm of “solve for x” but I think if you have a passion for it, math can be an interesting and worthwhile thing to study. I also think it’s really cool that you’re in a jazz combo. Jazz has it’s own unique sound and I can appreciate it.

  23. Hey Alby!
    Congrats on making it to your last year of college! That will be next year, and I am super excited about finally graduating. Your major seems definitely interesting. I have always had a hard time with math and finally just completed my math course last year. I had to take it at OCCC because it was more difficult at OU. I love Jazz as well! I think it is so soothing and all the instruments working in harmony make it unique. I hope your spring semester goes by fast!

  24. Hey Alby!
    Congrats on making it to your last year of college! That will be next year, and I am super excited about finally graduating. Your major seems definitely interesting. I have always had a hard time with math and finally just completed my math course last year. I had to take it at OCCC because it was more difficult at OU. I love Jazz as well! I think it is so soothing and all the instruments working in harmony make it unique. I hope your spring semester goes by fast!

  25. Hi Alby!

    I know it’s late in the semester, but I’m glad I’m finally meeting you! Congrats on being a senior, I’m sure it’s quite relieving to know that you’re almost done. I am very impressed with your major, and don’t think it’s anything I could ever do. Further, I also love listening to all types of music, including Jazz. I wonder if you’ve ever seen La La Land? They did a great job of exploring the jazz landscape in Los Angeles.

  26. Hi Alby! Congrats on making it to your senior year! It sounds like you have had a very full and successful four years and I wish you all of the luck in your future endeavors! Also, I applaud your abilities in/passion for math. I have never been too good at it, so when I come across people who are mathematically gifted, I am very impressed! Great post!

  27. Hi Alby! Congrats on making it to your senior year! It sounds like you have had a very full and successful four years and I wish you all of the luck in your future endeavors! Also, I applaud your abilities in/passion for math. I have never been too good at it, so when I come across people who are mathematically gifted, I am very impressed! Great post!

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