Wednesday, 24 March 2010

you the man now, dawg

when i was (much) younger, and mathematics was more a passion than a nuisance, i used to dream of solving one of the millennium prize problems. though i was (and still am, to a small extent) motivated by the elegance and importance of such things, it didn't escape my notice that any person who solves a problem is awarded one million dollars. shit's crazy, i know. and, obviously, so are the questions.

i'm not going to pretend to know all the questions, or even what they're about. i mean, this is fields medalist material. goddamn.

anyway, i long since lost interest of these questions, without even giving them further thought. until recently, when someone showed me that gregory perelman had found a proof to the poincare theorem! though he had done this in 2006, the related acknowledgment was only instilled last week, and this is what brought him to our attention.

now, what's so great about this? someone solved some silly maths problem, big deal. yes, yes, normally this would be the case, but, personally, i found his eccentricity (and arguably, his take on mathematics as a whole) is... amazing. i have yet to read his story in detail, but from what i gather, here are the two things that put me to shame:

1. his unwavering hold on 'mathematical ethics', which, i think is his personal disagreement with the bureaucracy surrounding (and distorting) the beauty and purity of what he has done.

2. declining the fields medal and the reward associated with solving a millennium prize. like many people before him, a sign of protest and an epitome of dedication to the art, rather than the form of it.

mr. perelman, you the man now, dawg.

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