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The World of Mathematics

9 May 2012

I recently started reading "The World of Mathematics" book by J.R. Newman. Here, I collect some of my favorite paragraphs from this book.

Chapter 13: Srinivasa Ramanujan

He would probably have been a greater mathematician if he had been caught and tamed a little in his youth; he would have discovered more that was new, and that, no doubt, of greater importance. On the other hand, he would have been less of a Ramanujan, and more of a European professor and the loss might have been greater than the gain.

Chapter 11: The Prince of Mathematicians (Gauss)

Gauss resolved to follow their [Archimedes and Newton] great example and leave after him only finished works of art, severely perfect, to which nothing could be added and from which nothing could be taken away without disfiguring the whole. The work itself must stand forth, complete, simple, and convincing, with no trace remaining of the labor by which it had been achieved. A cathedral is not a cathedral, he said, till the last scaffolding is down and out of sight. ... Few, but ripe.
Shortly after his seventh birthday Gauss entered his first school, .... run by a virile brute, one Buttner, whose idea of teaching the hundred or so boys in his charge was to thrash them into such a state of terrified stupidity that they forgot their own names.
'He is beyond me,' Buttner said; 'I can teach him nothing more' ....

@todo: Wait for some more amazing paragraphs about the beautiful minds.