Hello, World

Published on 15 Jun 2021 by Susam Pal

Welcome to the Offbeat Computation Club!

We are a mathematics and computation book club that began in the world of IRC networks. We plan to pick classics from the field of mathematics and computation, and read them together. The books and literature we pick for reading are of slightly offbeat nature, hence the name of this club! Our focus is on picking reading material about concepts and technologies that have been around for a long time and have an air of timelessness around them.

In particular, we will not be chasing the latest trends in technology most of the time. But we are not a retrocomputing club either. For example, we are likely not going to talk about BASIC programming on Commodore 64. The topics we pick for our club meetings are largely going to be topics that are still quite relevant and important in the field of mathematics and computation but they may not be what is considered to be mainstream. For example, we will read books like Introduction to Analytic Number Theory or talk about Common Lisp programming. Sometimes these topics may intersect with modern trends or retrocomputing but most of the times they would not. That is the kind of sweet spot we want to hit.


Here is a little bit of history about our community. This community was born on the Freenode IRC network when I announced on the ##algorithms and ##math channels there that I would be hosting book club meetings on analytic number theory. I created a makeshift channel named #susam to discuss the book club activities and plan the meeting schedule. Several members joined this channel and the book club was formed.

Our first meeting occurred via IRC on 4 Mar 2021. We realized that it would be much more efficient to discuss mathematics via audio along with a shared desktop session where we can use some software tool to scribble out and render mathematics formulas using LaTeX. So on the next day, that is, on 5 Mar 2021, we had our first web meeting via Zoom. Later, after an announcement on Hacker News, some members from the Hacker News community joined our club too and the community grew a little bit more as a result.

During the web meetings in the initial days of this club, I hacked up a tiny non-WSYIWYG tool that helped in typing out LaTeX code quickly and have it rendered on a pane using MathJax. This helped us to scribble mathematics quickly while understanding the concepts we came across in the book. This tool continued to evolve with our book club and it was soon released as Muboard. We use it often during our meetings.


We moved to Libera IRC later and continued to operate out of a makeshift channel. It has now been more than 3 months since we began these meetings. Although our community is tiny, the meetings have been going on consistently and we have learnt numerous new and interesting concepts and theorems in the field of analytic number theory. After 3 months of successful meetings, today, that is, on 15 Jun 2021, I decided to create a more permanent place for our community with a name that represents our community better. This new community is now called the Offbeat Computation Club. I believe this new name represents the nature of our community and our meetings.

In this community, we pick classics from the field of mathematics and computation and read them together. We are now operating out of the #offbeat channel on Libera IRC.


Since this club began, we have made good progress with the study of analytic number theory. The meetings for this topic have been going on consistencly. I have a little more free time now, so I can add a few more parallel meetings on other topics. Emacs and Lisp are on the top of my mind. I will plan something out and post an update soon. In the meantime, if any community member is interested to host their own book club meetings, we will have them added too to our schedule.

Join Us

Join our channel #offbeat on Libera Chat and be a part of our club activities. Alternatively, you can also join our channel via its Matrix bridge at #offbeat:libera.chat. Both the channel link and the bridge link point to the same channel, so you need to join only one of them, not both. If you are not an active IRC user, prefer joining the Matrix bridge because it is more convenient for someone unfamiliar with IRC. See you there!