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Re: Is "motivation" in mathematics a fairy tale?
Posted:
Apr 7, 2014 8:44 AM


Arturo Magidin <magidin@member.ams.org> writes:
> Generalization for the sake of generalization, unification for the > sake of unification, is worthless. Only when the generalization allows > new insight or allows the theory to reach further, only when > unification allows new insight or allows techniques that were > restricted to one setting to be used in new settings (to better or new > effects) is such generalization/unification generally deemed > worthwhile.
Quite so. Grothendieck, for instance (as we all well know) in a seminal display of mathematical prowess managed to simplify an 80 page paper of Serre into over a thousand pages of abstract nonsense in _Eléments de Géométrie Algébrique_. That this was not a surreal exercise in deranged mathematical performance art is a perfect illustration of what's at issue when we in mathematics speak of "motivation".
 Aatu Koskensilta (aatu.koskensilta@uta.fi)
"Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen"  Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus LogicoPhilosophicus



