Interview of Michael Atiyah (aged 86!)

“…to understand why it works…you’ve got to feel it.”

Singapore Maths Tuition

Source: https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160303-michael-atiyahs-mathematical-dreams/

Inspirational interview by Michael Atiyah, winner of both Fields Medal and Abel Prize, currently age 86!

Excerpt from the interview:

Is there one big question that has always guided you? 

I always want to try to understand why things work. I’m not interested in getting a formula without knowing what it means. I always try to dig behind the scenes, so if I have a formula, I understand why it’s there. And understanding is a very difficult notion.

People think mathematics begins when you write down a theorem followed by a proof. That’s not the beginning, that’s the end. For me the creative place in mathematics comes before you start to put things down on paper, before you try to write a formula. You picture various things, you turn them over in your mind. You’re trying to create, just as a musician is trying to create music, or a…

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martin56jones

"The mathematician's patterns, like the painter's or the poet's, must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colours or the words, must fit together in a harmonious way. " G H Hardy, A Mathematician's Apology (London 1941).

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