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# I Want to Be a Mathematician: An Automathography

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**From the reviews:**"...this is a fascinating addition to recent mathematical culture by one of its makers. The main message i absorbed from it was a set of conditions required for success in mathematics: talent, yes; single-mindedness, almost as obvious; sense of humour, essential when the going gets tough; and love, yes that is the right word - you must love mathematics, a ...more

Hardcover, 421 pages

Published
May 17th 1985
by Springer

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Littlewood's Zero-Infinity Law: If you get a request to referee a paper, decide to do it NOW or to refuse NOW (since you'll never do it). This makes everyone's lives better.

The Moore Method: Teaching by making the students come up with the proofs.

Some of the ...more

I was undecided between giving this book 3 or 4 stars, but I finally opted for 3. Still, it's a book I'd recommend any professional mathematician to read.

This is just as advertised: an auto

**math**ography, meaning that it's a description of Paul Halmos's life as a mathematician. I loved Halmos, and I think he was much more self-aware than most mathematicians. Two of my favorite quotes (paraphrased):

* I'll be best remembered for an abbreviation (iff) and a notation (the box at the end of a proof), and no one will remember that either of them was du ...more

*I Want to Be a Mathematician: An Automathography*delivers -- it is a pithy, insightful exposition on what it is to live and experience mathematics. It is a departure from the typical layman idea of mathematical progress as that of lone genius after lone genius, but instead paints the collaborative, artistic and inherently social picture behind all the theorems, lemmas and proofs.

Besides a few detours into real, difficul ...more

I do not want to comment too much on the mathematics, or different methods and ideas, I do enjoy his detailing his interest with writing and languages. This shows how "democratic" mathematics is, there is a great variety of backgrounds. The implication is inspiring.

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“Mathematics is not a deductive science - that's a cliche. When you try to prove a theorem, you don't just list the hypotheses, and then start to reason. What you do is trial and error, experimentation, guesswork.”
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