Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Why do I still try to do mathematics?

 It is off and on work after retirement in 2005, there is no money in it now and it is very hard work in the few strands that I still try to engage in. I have forgotten some of the elementary stuff and basic definition and to verify even simple things takes time and one has to be fairly sure of basic stuff before thinking about more advanced topics. In general topics, one is not so precise about basic concepts; perhaps there is a band width and fuzziness to many concepts which makes conversations possible. Then one can build on what seem more agreeable to one, confirm ones prejudices and continue to have some opinions about the world. But others have different opinions and often this results in acrimony and chaos. Perhaps mathematics balances this approach to some extent particularly when one is rusty. One has to be precise about basic concepts and it takes a lot of time to understand each sentence in an advanced paper. Hours and days go by and some feel for the topic develops and more precision later. In retirement, one is not in a hurry to finish things. I go on for days dreaming to see the ideas floating around and trying to reign them and then after months some understanding emerges. And in the end, one is a bit more certain about one's conclusions than in everyday life. It is some sort of meditation. Perhaps there are more human motives. One has earned some esteem from persons that one has respected for their work and may be one is still hankering for such esteem.

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