Saturday, June 17, 2017

Wisdom Of The Week

The brand of speedy mathematics that dominates public perception and excludes so many is but one representation of the subject. For the majority of folks who do not excel in the rapid-fire format of mathematics, there is good news: maths is an endurance event.

Mathematicians have long known this. Says Timothy Gowers:
“The most profound contributions to mathematics are often made by tortoises rather than hares.”
Andrew Wiles contributed something quite profound when he ended the 358-year search for the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. Wiles points to scale and novelty as the two aspects of mathematics that elude competitions. Let’s hear it straight from the tortoise’s mouth:

“Let me stress that creating new mathematics is a quite different occupation from solving problems in a contest. Why is this? Because you don’t know for sure what you are trying to prove or indeed whether it is true.”
-  Maths is an endurance event

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