It’s been a while since I’ve updated my website. With a new semester in sight, it seemed a good time to put it together. My previous website used the Ghost Blog platform, which looked nice, but turned out to be much more complicated that what I actually need. For this incarnation, I’ve switched to Jekyll. Unlike Ghost, Jekyll is a static site generator. This means that Jekyll takes all of the content that I write along with configuration and style files, and produces a static website (i.e., html/css/Javascript). Then my webserver just serves the static compiled files.

The static site generator has quite a few advantages. First, all of the compilation takes place on my personal computer, where it is easier for me to control my own programming environment. Additionally, the static site uses fewer resources on my server. The performance aspect isn’t a huge deal for me because my site sees so little traffic, but the big advantage is that there is less software server-side that I need to maintain. Finally, the content for my Jekyll site is entirely in the form of markdown files (plus some basic metadata) organized locally on my computer. Having my content in this format is incredibly convenient and flexible. I still have quite a bit to learn about how to effectively use Jekyll, but I am already seeing its advantages.

One final note about my blog’s name. The phrase “ex post facto obvious” comes from an (anonymous) reviewer for one of my papers. They used the phrase to indicate that the technique we used in the paper was obvious only after having seen it applied (the Latin ex postfacto literally means “out of the aftermath”, at least according to Wikipedia). The reviewer’s phrase and sentiment struck a cord with me. For me, a lot of the appeal of math is in the ex post facto obvious: once we’ve found or seen a solution to a problem, we realize that the solution could (should?) have been obvious, if only we’d adopted the “right” viewpoint from the outset. “Ex post facto obvious” captures the feeling of struggling with a problem’s subtlety to be rewarded with an elegant solution. For me, this is the ultimate satisfaction of doing math.