20 March 2018:

This week's progress:

1) Brendan came out with a new book:

* Brendan Fong and David I. Spivak, Seven Sketches in Compositionality: An Invitation to Applied Category Theory.

> Abstract. This book is an invitation to discover advanced topics in category theory through concrete, real-world examples. It aims to give a tour: a gentle, quick introduction to guide later exploration. The tour takes place over seven sketches, each pairing an evocative application, such as databases, electric circuits, or dynamical systems, with the exploration of a categorical structure, such as adjoint functors, enriched categories, or toposes. No prior knowledge of category theory is assumed.

It looks great, and I should blog about it!

2) Brendan and David announced their book at last week's applied category theory workshop at NIST. And a lot of other things happened at this workshop! Too many to list, since there were about 17 academics there, half category theorists, and also about 15 folks from industry and about 11 from government. It was focused more on networking and less on technical details:

  • I caught up with Blake, who is working at NIST using Spivak's Algebraic Query Language to help design better power grids - a massive extension of my work with Brendan on categories and electrical circuits.

  • I talked to Brendan, Joshua Tan and Bob Coecke about the new applied category theory journal Compositionality. We're all either editors or on the advisory board, and we signed the new constitution of this journal, which will start up this summer.

  • I talked to Jelle Herold and Fabrizio Genovese about Statebox, Jelle's new startup that's using Petri nets and blockchain technology and other things to provide businesses with better supply chain management and the like. Jelle focused on one application: the cobalt mining industry! I always enjoy talking to him.

  • Andrew Vlasic of the Army Research Office said he is funding work on stochastic dynamics and we should apply for funding by sending him a 1.5 page "white paper" that talks about insufficiencies in existing work. He also said he can fund conferences for up to $20,000.

  • Jared Culbertson of the Air Force Research Lab in Dayton Ohio said he has postdoc funding for category theory and dynamical systems. I see he's written a paper A categorical foundation for Bayesian probability, which sounds like something Brendan and Daniel should know about.

  • Steve Huntsman of BAE systems says they "love interns", as did Arquimedes Canedo of Siemens (who took on Blake as an intern last summer). So, I think you guys should apply for summer internships! I'm gonna pressure you to give it a try. Even if you want to go into academia, this will look good on your resume - and show you an alternative path forward.

I was impressed by how many people said they got into applied category theory by reading the Rosetta Stone paper that Mike Stay and I wrote... and how many read my blog Azimuth.

In short, applied category theory seems to be taking off!

You can read more about this workshop here:

The comments discuss some of the talks.