*Other mathematicians compete about the complicated theorems that they are*

**able**to prove; combinatorialists like to compete about about the simplicity or self-evidence of statements they are**unable**to prove, i.e., ``I can't even prove ...''[As recalled and paraphrased by Mike Saks]

Unfortunately, this oft-repeated quote seems false. In general, mathematicians like to marvel at the simplicity of things they cannot prove. These are the most compelling open problems; they indicate a gap between our intuition and our understanding. And, of course, many combinatorialists obsess over insanely complicated proofs. Maybe the real indication is that combinatorialists are less familiar with the rest of mathematics.

ReplyDeleteWait, Anonymous. Did you just prove that Tom Trotter, notable combinatorialist whose dissertation was on algebraic topology, is ignorant of the rest of mathematics using an i'm-rubber-you're-glue argument? Cool post, bro.

ReplyDeleteI critiqued the quote on its merits. You, apparently, defend it based on the thesis topic of its progenitor. Kudos.

ReplyDeleteI. as the moderator, am closing this exchange before it further degenerates.

ReplyDelete