In my graduate Advanced Combinatorics class last semester, I covered the combinatorics of crystal base theory. One of the concepts that came up in this context was *ballot sequences*, which are motivated by the following elementary problem about voting:

Suppose two candidates, A and B, are running for local office. There are 100 voters in the town, 50 of whom plan to vote for candidate A and 50 of whom plan to vote for candidate B. The 100 voters line up in a random order at the voting booth and cast their ballots one at a time, and the votes are counted real-time as they come in with the tally displayed for all to see. What is the probability that B is never ahead of A in the tally?

*This is the final post in a four-part series on adapting to the pandemic as a mathematician. See Part I – AlCoVE, Part II – Collaboration, and Part III - Teaching*.

As conferences moved online, a number of different methods of giving a remote talk became commonplace. One was to simply point a webcam at a chalkboard and lecture as usual. Another is to make slides and use the “Share Screen” option on Zoom to show the slides to the audience. Another popular method, which I have used a number of times, is to make partial handwritten “slides” in Notability or GoodNotes on an iPad, with space left for doing examples and computations, and then share the iPad screen over Zoom and walk the audience through.

*This is the third post in a four-part series on adapting to the pandemic as a mathematician. See Part I - AlCoVE, Part II - Collaboration, and Part IV - Talks with OBS.*

Of all the things I had to figure out how to adapt to the pandemic reality, I found teaching to be the most challenging by far. So much of the value of teaching comes from the in-person connection between students and teachers, and between peers in the classroom. How can you replicate an entire classroom experience on a 14 inch computer screen? How can you pull off hybrid teaching without diminishing the experience for those students who take the course remotely?

*This is the second post in a four-part series on adapting to the pandemic as a mathematician. See _Part I – AlCoVE, Part III – Teaching__, and _Part IV – Talks with OBS*

The first aspect of academia to be affected by the pandemic was conferences; the second was in-person collaborative projects. That research collaborator you invited to speak in your seminar can no longer visit, and the potential for a two-day intense collaboration to kick off a new project diminishes drastically. You can no longer meet in person with your graduate students, at least not as easily. Little things like deciding when you’re going to hold the fall Putnam club meetings suddenly turn from a quick conversation in the math department hallway into a five-email exchange.

So I, like all other mathematicians, found ways to adapt. I’ll share a few things that really worked, a few things that really didn’t, and a few extra tools that made things nicer.

*I’ll be writing up a series of posts on what I’ve learned so far about adapting my work to a pandemic-compatible lifestyle. This is the first, and focuses on math conferences.* *Stay safe out there!*

*For the other posts in this series, see _Part II – Collaboration, Part III – Teaching*, and Part IV - Talks with OBS._

It was March 15, 2020, and suddenly everything stopped.

This story likely sounds familiar, because the same thing probably happened to you. Classes went online. Conferences were cancelled. No more chatting with colleagues at department tea. Home life suddenly became radically different and also much more central.