Friday, November 29, 2013

Here's someone I'd like you to meet

There's a certain rare breed of species that never fails to impress me - those who combine seemingly incongruous traits in a unique way. For example wit and compassion,  or intelligence and innocence, or humility and confidence.. I've come across a few such folks in my life, and they've let a deep impression on me.

Maths, in a way belongs to that category, though in an inanimate sense. And "how", you ask ? Maths accommodates abstraction while having no tolerance for ambiguity. What this means is that some of the best mathematicians ( atleast the non-reclusive ones) can explain complex ideas with startling clarity.

The construction of a proof is in some ways, not much different from that of an essay. Both require a chain of reasoning where one point leads to the next, without there being excessive repetition. The best proofs and truly well written pieces, in my opinion, again share something in common - Elegance.

Anyway, I write all this after reading a bit of 'Mathematical People - Profiles and Interviews', a collection of interviews with some of the most eminent mathematicians today. I'm sure it wasn't the intention, but this book doubles as a set of brilliant case studies on 'How to be fascinating' ! :)These are men and women with truly original minds and a wide range of interests. Well, it's just the kind of book I love.

Go read it. Even if you don't understand or like math.

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