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Hi all, I'm Pat.
I'm very much looking forward to getting started. Much thanks to John for organizing the seminar, and to Brendan and David for writing the text!
As for a bit about myself, I studied math and philosophy as an undergrad and then jumped ship to computational biology for grad school where I really came to miss having crisp definitions and theorems. I studied information processing in bacterial gene expression for my Ph.D., trying to understand how transcription factors work over the cellular and evolutionary timescales. Now I work in industry as a data scientist.
I'd been curious about category theory since I got hooked on Haskell as an undergraduate. I'd studied from a few other texts like Pierce and Awodey, along with some of the very weird papers of Robert Rosen. I always felt, though, that I was somehow missing the point of it. It was puzzling to me because it seemed that category theory should be right up my alley.
Studying category theory felt kind of like raking a zen rock garden: it was soothing and pleasing for its own sake, but I struggled to understand what it was actually good for! I trust that there's a good answer to this question, and believe people when they tell me that category theory is now indispensable in some areas of math and physics. So that's what I most hope to get out of this course: a sense of what you can do with category theory that would be difficult or impossible without it. I'd be especially interested in working through the implications for biology.
Anyway, can't wait to dive in and get to know everyone. Thanks again to everyone who's making it possible.