Monday, 16 March 2015

Recent reading 2 - Cedric Villani's Birth of a Theorem

Now this is a curious book.  It is not every day that a book about mathematical discovery is featured on Radio 4.  What I particularly liked about this book was the inclusion of various bits of the actual mathematics, rather than just miss it out as such books usually do.  True, the mathematics is incomprehensible, but that rather adds to the value of including it.

The account of the collaboration on the proof is also very interesting - especially the number of re-writes it went through.  And apparently you can win a Field's Medal before your proof has been accepted for publication.

Sadly I will never win a Field's Medal.  For most of my life this was due to insufficient mathematical ability, but for the last fifth or so of my life, it is due to my age.  Which is a better reason - similar to the explanation about why I will never play in an under-21 international football match

And why do the French produce so many great mathematicians?  And the Hungarians?  And Jews?

No comments: