Jesse Johnson's Website

Welcome to my personal website. There are a lot of folks out there with the same name as me, so you should make sure you have the right one. I'm the one who used to teach math and write papers about Heegaard splittings at Oklahoma State University, before leaving academia for a job at Google. I'm also the one who started the Low Dimensional Topology blog, and the Shape of Data blog.


If I'm the Jesse Johnson you're looking for, there are a few ways you can get in touch with me. As you can see from the menu bar, I'm on Linkedin and Twitter (@jejomath), and Google+. I also have an e-mail address that you can figure out by adding a period right in the middle of my Twitter handle, moving the ampersand to the other side, then appending "". Note that I'm no longer on any social networks that start with the letter 'F'.


In 2007, I started hearing about these things called "blogs". I'm pretty sure by then blogs had made it through the hip cycle and fallen off the other end, which seems to be around the time I usually hear about new trends. At the time, I was starting to worry about getting a job when my postdoc ended, and the field that I worked in - three-dimensional topology - was suffering a PR crisis after Grisha Perelman proved the Poincare conjecture, prompting certain mathematicians to declare that this meant the field was dead. I started writing the Low-dimensional Topology blog with the goal of convincing the world that it wasn't. I'm not sure if it succeeded, but the blog gained a decent following, and I even managed to recruit a few other topologists to start contributing.

In 2011, I became interested in data topology. I wrote a few posts about this on the Low-dimensional Topology blog, but I started to realize that I really wanted to write for a broader (not just academic) audience. This meant going deep on relatively simple mathematical ideas that the readers of Low-dimensional Topology would have been bored to tears by. So I started a new blog, The Shape of Data for these types of posts.

Recently, I've also been playing around with Medium for posts that don't quite fit into the themes of Low-dimensional Topology of Shape of Data. They have some very interesting ideas about how to turn a collection of blog posts into a conversation.

My former life

While I'm now very happily employed as a software engineer who dabbles in math in his free time, some assorted ephemera from my days as an academic still remain. For example, take a look at my academic CV (now slightly out of data), or explore my mathematical ancestry. I've also made NSF grant proposals from 2009 and 2012 available, for anyone who is working on their own proposal. (Both were funded.)

Academic Writing

The thing about being an academic is that you do a lot of writing. If you want to read some of it, you can check out my page of notes and annotated talk slides, or my annotated bibliography of all the papers and preprints I've written. Or, if you want a more condensed version of the latter, you can head on over to the math arXiv (or, rather the UC Davis mirror of the arXiv.)


If you've made it this far and are still reading, you probably haven't found what you're looking for. If you continue reading, that's extremely unlikely to change. Instead, here's a bit of random personal trivia:

I'm left handed. I don't like tomatoes. My favorite author is Sandra Boynton. I used to want to play guitar like Jimi Hendrix. (I still do, but I used to as well.) I like reading comic books (or graphic novels if you prefer) and most of my favorite TV shows are cartoons.

I used to watch the Daily Show back when Craig Kilbourne was the host. When John Stewart took over, I thought he was going to ruin the show. To this day, I'm still haunted by how wrong I was. Please don't tell anyone.