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Interview: James D. Mitchell

James D. Mitchell is a senior lecturer at University of St. Andrews, Scotland. He is the the developer of the Citrus package and also involved in the development of the Smallsemi package. On his homepage there are computer calculated and visualized examples of certain interesting transformation semigroups.

So, as the first post in the interview series, here are the Q&As.

By training, are you a mathematician or a software engineer?


How did you become involved in computational semigroup theory?

I did a three year postdoc in St Andrews funded by a grant about computing with semigroups.

What is your main research/development at the moment?

At the moment, I’m mostly developing the Citrus package for GAP 4.5. The next release of Citrus (0.7) will include functions for computing with inverse semigroups of partial permutations. I think this is the first software package for this purpose, and I hope that Citrus 0.7 will facilitate research in this area much as other computational tools have done for permutation groups.

What is your perspective on using computers in mathematical research?

For some problems a computer is useless, for others it is essential or at the very least makes something that would be hard or impossible to do by hand possible. I think we should make use of whatever tools are available. Narrow mindedness is not a good problem solving strategy.

What do you do in your free time?

I’m a father, husband, runner, long distance cyclist, and prodigious cake-eater.

Categories: interview

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