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January 29, 2007

No Need to Apologise

Posted by David Corfield

Café regular John Armstrong has a blog. It goes by the name of The Unapologetic Mathematician. A subtle allusion to Hardy’s A Mathematician’s Apology, playing cleverly on the two meanings of apology?

Posted at January 29, 2007 6:19 PM UTC

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Re: No Need to Apologise

People notice me!

Actually, yes the title is as you suppose. I’ll probably get around to specifically reviewing Hardy sooner or later, but I’m really more focused on connecting current mathematical ideas all the way down to the interested lay audience.

There’s this very common reaction in the general population to mathematics. If someone asks what you do and you say you’re a mathematician, you might have been better off saying you’re a cannibal.

The interested lay audience picks up (good-to-mediocre) popularizations of physics and astronomy and all sorts of other fields, but I have yet to meet one who has even an oversimplified take on the Riemann hypothesis or has even heard of Langlands. I think a lot of mathematicians react to the general distaste and bemusement by pulling their work back within their own circles, tacitly apologizing for the field. Thus the title.

Will the Unapologetic Mathematician ever be at the level of the Bad Astronomer? Maybe not, but it couldn’t hoit.

Posted by: John Armstrong on January 29, 2007 7:50 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

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