A few remarks about searching:

(1) Like many (probably most) researchers, I use search tools on the internet multiple times daily to locate relevant information to what I do; these searches, however, are only as good as the search terms I use, and every once in a while, it is really hard to guess the right ones! The last instance of this is that it is only last week that J. Achter pointed out to me (and my coauthors) an interesting paper of D. Masser from 1996 which is very closely related to my paper on simple jacobians in families and the larger sieve (with J. Ellenberg, C. Hall, and C. Elsholtz; see also Quomodocumque’s post on this).

(2) Apart from Google, of course, the most useful tool for a mathematician is the Mathematical Reviews (and Zentralblatt, though I have to admit that I rarely look at the latter). I can still remember when this only existed in paper, and I would sometimes browse the Number Theory section when the new monthly issue came in; and I remember even more vividly the first electronic version (around 1993–94), on six (!) CDROMS, which required a multi-platter CD-ROM reader/changer to be accessed. There was one workstation with it in the library of the Institut Fourier, and the search times were atrocious because of the delays in changing one disc for another… Now my question is: does there exist a similar database in other fields? Specifically, I’ve been searching high and low for prior references to hand signals in geckos (the power of blogging: this is the third hit when searching google for “gecko”…), and I’ve found that being deprived of the analogue of Math Reviews makes me feel quite helpless. I haven’t found any explicit reference on Google Scholar, and I don’t know if there is somewhere a better source of information on such a topic.

(I did search for “Gecko” in Math Reviews: no luck… however, if you’ve discovered a nice mathematical object which seems very sticky and acrobatic, you know a good name for it now…)

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I am a professor of mathematics at ETH Zürich since 2008.

7 thoughts on “Searching…”

  1. For many other fields there’s the ISI Web of Science. Like MathSciNet it requires a subscription. And for Computer Science it’s not very useful because it has little or no coverage of conference publications.

  2. What about those, found through Google Scholar?
    – “Hypothetical function of elevated locomotory postures in geckos (Reptilia: Gekkonidae)” (Yehuda L Werner, one of the two authors, is a world expert on geckos with even a wikipedia page in his honor: ) Anyways,
    I can’t access that paper but it looks very relevant.
    – “Social behavior and sex recognition in the Puerto Rican dwarf gecko Sphaerodactylus nicholsi” says something about hands movements
    – “Roles of visual, acoustic, and chemical signals in social interactions of the tropical house gecko” does not seem to have what you want after a quick skim, but you never know

  3. (3) Thanks for the spelling correction!

    (1) Thanks for the pointer to ISI (which I now remember having heard about, though usually disparagingly…) It does seem to lead to a few possible references.

    (2) The first paper seems the most likely to contain something useful; I’ll try to look it up (or write to the author…)

  4. Your post made me curious about the state of the Lang conjecture – where can one read about that? BTW, I found Jstor a usefull search tool.

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