This blog, which is almost three years old, is titled “Applied mathematics, software and workflow”. Workflow refers to everything involved in a research activity except the actual research. It’s about how to do many different things: edit and typeset a document, store and access your bibliographic references, carry out reproducible numerical experiments, produce figures, back up your files, collaborate with others, and so on. These tasks all need to be done multiple times, so small gains in efficiency can have a big payoff in the long run.
My article Workflow in the The Princeton Companion to Applied Mathematics gives a brief overview of the subject and can be downloaded in pre-publication form as an EPrint.
Workflow is not just about efficiency, though, or about producing the best possible end result. It’s also about enjoying carrying out the various tasks. Don Knuth put it perfectly when he said, in The Art of Computer Programming (Volume 2, Seminumerical Algorithms),
The enjoyment of one’s tools is an essential ingredient of successful work.
A search of this blog shows that I have barely used the term “workflow” so far. But a number of posts relate to this topic, namely
- those on Emacs: my favourite editor and a key component of my own workflow,
- those on LaTeX,
- those on writing, and
- a post on customizing color in PDF viewers.
In the future I will write further posts about workflow as I continue to refine my own.