Date: Nov 27, 1997 2:41 PM
Author: meron@cars3.uchicago.edu
Subject: Re: most famous codiscoverer gets credit (Matthew Effect) [was: This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics (Week 112)]



In article <y8zoh36n2z1.fsf_-_@berne.ai.mit.edu>, Bill Dubuque <wgd@berne.ai.mit.edu> writes:
>
>Speaking of simultaneous discoveries in math, does anyone know
>any historical works that explicitly study the reasons for such
>remarkable confluences? E.g.
>
> o calculus (Newton and Leibnitz)
> o geometric representation of complex numbers
> (Argand, Buee, Gauss, Mourey, Warren, Wessel)
> o non-Euclidean geometry (Bolyai, Gauss, Lobatchevsky)
> o Hilbert's 10th problem (Chudnovsky, Matiyasevich)
> o Kolmogorov complexity (Solomonoff, Kolmogorov, Chaitin)
>

I would say that major advances of this sort don't come out of the
blue, they only happen when a sufficient "critical mass" of background
material has been generated. Of course it still takes then a gifted
individual to see the connections in what's already known and
recognize where they lead, but there is certainly a significant
probability that more than one such individual will be available.

So the confluence is there because all of them drink from the same
river.

>I was going to close by quoting W. Bolyai's remark such that when the
>time is ripe for certain ideas they blossom like violets in spring,


Yep, exactly.

Mati Meron | "When you argue with a fool,
meron@cars.uchicago.edu | chances are he is doing just the same"