I read somewhere a long time ago that Hilbert once said words (no doubt in German) to the effect that any mathematician worth his salt ought to be able to explain his results to any man in the street. Can anybody tell me where the primary source for this quote is?

Karl Friedrich Gauss made many discoveries that he did not publish and that remained unknown until later mathematicians (re)discovered them. When Gauss’s personal notebooks were later examined, it turned out that he had made the same discoveries decades earlier. For example, in Visual Complex Analysis Tristan Needham discusses how Hamilton and Rodrigues were apparently the […]

I just wasted the last hour on google looking in vain for an excerpt of Weil’s writings describing the process of discovering mathematics. I believe he once beautifully described the feeling of loss that accompanies the realization that the discovery you made seems, in retrospect, trivial. Am I misremembering or just bad at googling? Thanks […]

Some of the mathematicians agree that reading biography (or more specifically, math-autobiography, scientific-biography) gives lot of inspiration for working; and I am one of them. One book which I know is: An Automathography by Paul Halmos. My request is: Can you recommend few more similar types, that is, auomathography, or biography of mathematicians ? Thanks,

Many young, and not so young, mathematicians struggle with how to spend their time. Perhaps this is due to the 90%-10% rule for mathematical insight: 90 pages of work yield only 10 pages of useful ideas. A venerable mathematician once described his career to me as constantly stumbling around in the dark. Of course, this […]

Henri Lebesgue (1875-1941) was a French mathematician, best known for inventing the theory of measure and integration that bears his name. As far as I know, “Lebesgue” is the correct spelling of his surname, but it seems to be quite common for people to spell it “Lebesque”, with a q. Why is this? Is “Lebesque” […]

I would like to collect a list of mathematical concepts that have been named after mathematicians, which are now used in lowercase form (such as “abelian”). This question is partly motivated by my former supervisor, who joked (something like): You know you’ve made it as a mathematician when they start using your name in lowercase. […]

All over the web one can find statements to the effect that: “One must be able to say at all times–instead of points, straight lines, and planes–tables, chairs, and beer mugs” There are many variations, some in quotes (lots of variations here) and some not, all paraphrases of the same thing. But I can’t seem […]

There could be several personal, social, philosophical and even political reasons to keep a mathematical discovery as a secret. For example it is completely expected that if some mathematician find a proof of $P=NP$, he is not allowed by the government to publish it as same as a usual theorem in a well-known public journal […]

Two prominent mathematicians who were disabled in ways which would have made it difficult to work were Lev Pontryagin and Solomon Lefschetz. Pontryagin was blind as a result of a stove explosion at the age of $14$, though he learned mathematics because his mother read him math papers and books, and he went on to […]

Intereting Posts

Normal, idempotent operator implies self-adjointness.
Relations of a~b iff b = ak^2
What are the postulates that can be used to derive geometry?
If $n$ is an even perfect number $ n> 6$ show that the sum of its digits is $\equiv 1 (\bmod 9)$
Quickest self-contained way of finding $\pi_1(\text{SU}(2))$ and $\pi_1(\text{SO}(3))$?
A line through the centroid G of $\triangle ABC$ intersects the sides at points X, Y, Z.
Necessary and sufficient conditions for differentiability.
Convergence of fixed point iteration for polynomial equations
What is an Homomorphism/Isomorphism “Saying”?
What are the numbers before and after the decimal point referred to in mathematics?
Direct summand of skew-symmetric and symmetric matrices
Nowhere monotonic continuous function
On atomic and atomless subsets
does $\lim_{N\to\infty}\frac{\sum_{i=1}^N a_i}{\sum_{i=1}^N b_i}$ converge to $\lim_{N\to\infty}\frac{1}{N}\sum_{i=1}^N\frac{a_i}{b_i}$
Period of a sequence defined by its preceding term