Mathematics, poetry and beauty

“I always thought he didn’t have enough imagination for mathematics”

Peter Cameron's Blog

Comparing mathematics with poetry is an infinitely rich game. For every opinion you express, there is an equally valid counter-opinion. Contrasted to Hilbert’s dismissal of a student who had left mathematics for poetry, “I always thought he didn’t have enough imagination for mathematics”, someone said to me recently that the early death of Schubert was a greater tragedy than that of Galois, since what Galois could have achieved would sooner or later be done by someone else, whereas Schubert’s potential was lost forever.

So it isn’t so surprising that a book by Ron Aharoni, newly translated into English, doesn’t come to a definite conclusion one way or the other. The best we can do in a book entitled Mathematics, Poetry and Beauty is to give many examples of beautiful mathematics and beautiful poetry and discuss what the similarities and differences are.

Ron Aharoni is a mathematician whose field is combinatorics…

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