OT Re: Math-embarrassment results in CS [was: Should non-security 2.7 bugs be fixed?]

Rustom Mody rustompmody at gmail.com
Thu Jul 23 14:52:53 CEST 2015


On Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 12:28:19 PM UTC+5:30, Gregory Ewing wrote:
> Rustom Mody wrote:
> > Ive known good ones) most practicing-mathematicians proceed on the assumption 
> > that they *discover* math and not that they *invent* it.
> 
> For something purely abstract like mathematics, I don't
> see how there's any distinction between "discovering" and
> "inventing". They're two words for the same thing.
> 
> I don't know what kind of -ist that makes me...

By some strange coincidence, a colleague just sent me this article on the mathematician John Horton Conway:
http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jul/23/john-horton-conway-the-most-charismatic-mathematician-in-the-world

In which is this paragraph:
--------------------------
"Conway is the rare sort of mathematician whose ability to connect his pet
mathematical interests makes one wonder if he isn't, at some level, shaping 
mathematical reality and not just exploring it," James Propp, a professor of 
mathematics at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, once told me. "The 
example of this that I know best is a connection he discovered between sphere 
packing and games. These were two separate areas of study that Conway had 
arrived at by two different paths. So there's no reason for them to be linked. 
But somehow, through the force of his personality, and the intensity of his 
passion, he bent the mathematical universe to his will."
--------------------------


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