Words change their meanings. Once “biometrics” referred to the use of statistics in studying biological systems such as agriculture (as opposed to, say, “technometrics”): now only one item on the Google top ten refers to the International Biometric Society, so completely has a different meaning taken over. 913 more words
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Comparing mathematics with poetry is an infinitely rich game. For every opinion you express, there is an equally valid counter-opinion. Contrasted to Hilbert’s dismissal of a student who had left mathematics for poetry, “I always thought he didn’t have enough imagination for mathematics”, someone said to me recently that the early death of Schubert was a greater tragedy than that of Galois, since what Galois could have achieved would sooner or later be done by someone else, whereas Schubert’s potential was lost forever. 728 more words
Last Saturday the Guardian had a review of The Serpent Papers by Jessica Cornwell (granddaughter of John Le Carré). Set in Barcelona and Mallorca, the book is a murder mystery and more; its presiding genius is Ramon Llull, the mediaeval Mallorcan who was described by Donald Knuth as “an energetic and quixotic Catalan poet, novelist, encyclopedist, educator, mystic and missionary” (in his article “Two thousand years of combinatorics” in… 522 more words