Rafe H. Kinsey

rkinsey (at) umich (dot) edu

I grew up in central New Jersey, and spent four years in California for college at Stanford, where I started out planning to be a linguistics major before switching to mathematics. I finished my Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Michigan, under the supervision of Sijue Wu. I now live in New York. My mathematical interests lie mostly in analysis, and my dissertation is about water waves.

The article based on based on my dissertation research, A Priori Estimates for Two-Dimensional Water Waves with Angled Crests, jointly written with my advisor, Sijue Wu, has been published in the Cambridge Journal of Mathematics. See the published version (paywalled until 2022) or the arxiv preprint. Please email me if you'd like a copy of the dissertation version.

I used to organize the Student Analysis Seminar. I also used to participate in the (sometimes dormant) PDE Reading Group.

New: I now have a blog.

N.B. My first name's pronunciation sometimes causes confusion; it rhymes with "safe".


During fall 2013, I taught a section of the freshman writing composition course, English 125, under the auspices of the Sweetland Fellowship program, which allows graduate students in different disciplines to teach a writing course related to their field. For more information on the course, which was titled "Language, Logic and Information: Using Mathematics to Understand Writing, Communication and Argument," please see the webpage. I also have a post on my blog introducing the course. I expect to post a recap about the course sometime in spring 2014 (update: well, at some point).

During summer 2013, I helped to create an online depository of institutional knowledge about the introductory teaching program in the math department. The idea is to collect the advice of experienced GSIs and lecturers, to help newer instructors. UM people, let me know if you're interested in helping!

In winter 2013, I co-coordinated Math 116.

Winter 2012: Math 116, Calculus II, section 017 (TuThFri 10-11.30). Section homepage.

Fall 2010: Math 116, Calculus II, section 036 (MWF 1-2.30). Section homepage.

Fall 2009: Math 115, Calculus I, section 046 (MWTh 2.30-4). Section homepage.


Below are several older papers and talks, mostly from undergrad. Many of these aren't (ostensibly) math-related. (I was originally planning on studying linguistics.) Please also see my blog for more recent writings.

I wrote a letter to the editor of the Michigan Daily about privacy at UM. The version they published was slightly edited from the version I submitted, so I've made a copy of my original submission available here.

My prelim syllabus. I also have typed notes on all the material there, which I'm happy to send by request (caveat lector); these are mostly based on Stein's and Evans's books, and Tao's lecture notes.

Honors Thesis: Topology and Social Choice Theory, 2008. [pdf]

Kinsey, Rafe H. 2007. Are "Rational" Actors Aware of Rationality in Authoritarian Governments? A Case Study of the Soviet Union. Final paper for PS 346S: The Logic of Authoritarian Government. [pdf] I consider the question of to what extent actual political actors are aware of the "economic" or "rational choice" perspectives that political science theories rest on, and what the implications of this question are, focusing on the Soviet Union. I think this is an important question that does not seem to have gotten much attention.

Kinsey, Rafe H., T. Florian Jaeger, and Thomas Wasow. 2007. "What Does THAT Mean? Experimental Evidence against the Principle of No Synonymy." Linguistic Society of America, 81st Annual Meeting, Anaheim, CA. [handout] [poster version presented at Stanford's Parents Symposium for Undergraduate Research, February 2007]

Kinsey, Rafe H. 2007. A Preliminary Analysis of In-House Draws within the Overall Housing Draw at Stanford. Final paper for PHIL 355: Logic and Social Choice. [pdf] Comments welcome. I also wrote a paper for an earlier class on residential configurations and their effect on college life. I now disagree with many of the conclusions of that earlier paper (a change of view that's reflected in the paper linked here), but can send it by request.

Kinsey, Rafe H. 2005. Phonological Voice in Whispered Speech. [pdf] A paper I wrote for a phonetics/phonology class, looking at whispering as it interacts with voicing in Thai and English.

Kinsey, Rafe H. 2004. Applying Linguistic Theory to Traditional Grammar and Style. [pdf] A paper I wrote for a writing class, freshman year. If I were to write this today, I'd certainly say some things differently, but the general ideas I still agree with. A few comments on some of the things I would change: (1) I wouldn't apply Grice's descriptive axioms normatively, or at least I'd acknowledge that this wasn't their original purpose; (2) I would discuss a bit more the importance of norms, and emphasize that deciding which things are reasonable norms and which are prescriptivist nonsense is a question of drawing a line; (3) I would suggest that teaching linguistics in schools should be joined with teaching of logic, semantics, and basic set theory, a project I'm still very interested in. (See the 2013 Sweetland writing course, which I hope may include some of these ideas.)

A letter-to-the-editor to the Stanford Report on intellectual life at Stanford.

In high school, one of my great passions was the student-run newspaper, The Tower, where I served as news editor and then editor-in-chief. Tower was special in that it truly was student-run (indeed, this fact created more than a little controversy in our politically fractious district). Here's an essay I wrote as the graduating editor-in-chief in June 2004. Almost a decade later, I have remarkably little to disagree with what I wrote as an 18-year-old. I still agree strongly with my thesis that inspiring passion in students is the most important thing high school can do, and one of the things that Princeton High School did best. The primary thing I would change would be the paragraph on the achievement gap, which remains, unfortunately, one of the great challenges in Princeton and in our country; I don't think my tone then sufficiently acknowledged the gravity and importance of the problem, and I think I was too skeptical of solutions at the high-school level. (One of the important parts of a solution was implicit in the rest of my essay: having activities that inspire passions in students.)

I recently made a webpage for my mother's psychotherapy practice: Susanne Hand, LCSW, Psychotherapist in Princeton, NJ. Perhaps the ease of doing this in wordpress will convince me to upgrade my webpage from its current bare-bones design. Some day. (A blog even, perhaps?) At the very least, I hope putting this link here will help the computers in Mountain View find her site (a problem exacerbated by the fact that she does not spell her name Suzanne Hand or Susan Hand, and that there are apparently plenty of hand therapists online who presumably do not offer psychotherapy); the status quo for therapists seems to be shelling out an exorbitant $30-60 a month for a listing in various for-profit directories, which seems rather much. (This does shed some light on Google's business incentives, though.)
A very important essay (by Paul Lockhart) on math education. This should be required reading for anyone interested in math or education (and, a fortiori, anyone interested in math education). Although there are some minor points in the essay that I would quibble with (including the tone and how to carry out these ideas), I agree with the essential argument and ideas.
All material copyright (c), 2004-2014, Rafe Kinsey.
Last modified: Fri May 18 17:53:01 EDT 2018