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Topic: Is "motivation" in mathematics a fairy tale?
Replies: 4   Last Post: Apr 9, 2014 2:25 PM

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Aatu Koskensilta

Posts: 2,639
Registered: 6/28/08
Re: Is "motivation" in mathematics a fairy tale?
Posted: Apr 7, 2014 11:07 AM
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Peter Percival <> writes:

> Aatu Koskensilta wrote:

>> 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".

> Beilinson has mixed motives.
> 'I'll get my coat' comes next, I think.

Tee-hee. In an odd coincidence, I was in fact in my post being both
completely serious (albeit in my usual facetious style), but also
attempting a rather extraordinarily inept and hamfisted mathematical
in-joke. I was, you see, side-splittingly humorously, and very very
wittily, trading on the absolutely riotously amusing fact that "motive"
is a technical term in certain mathematical circles, in addition to its
usual everyday use, ha-ha-ha-ha. I'd really rather hoped no-one would
catch on that.

Aatu Koskensilta (

"Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen"
- Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

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