Interview of Michael Atiyah (aged 86!)

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

Singapore Maths Tuition


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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Simple geometric beauty – a film by Bianca Violet and Stefan Klaus


“We visualize simple geometric beauty combined with mathematical content. Please enjoy.

Using a single formula – a polynomial – the film shows fascinating transformations from a cube to a rhombic dodecahedron, to an octahedron and to a dodecahedron.”

Mathematical Impressions: Curved and Straight? – by George Hart

The elliptic hyperboloid is a beautiful quadratic surface that is “doubly ruled,” meaning that the surface, although curved, contains two straight lines through each point…Here it is applied to the design of a walk-through archway in the teaching garden at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.”

Simons Foundation.