tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3722233.post6817087214769977287..comments2021-02-24T08:40:40.300-06:00Comments on Computational Complexity: Contribute to the Martin Gardner CentennialLance Fortnowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/06752030912874378610noreply@blogger.comBlogger3125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3722233.post-61283698756588278342014-02-04T17:37:45.441-06:002014-02-04T17:37:45.441-06:00Since this is about Martin Gardner, it is difficul...Since this is about Martin Gardner, it is difficult for me to pass. In my mind, Martin Gardner is a huge figure -- one who can inspire hopes.<br /><br />As a computer science undergraduate at an ordinary institute in India, I had little to no exposure of the beauty of discrete mathematics. Moreover, the way we were taught programming did not help either. I lost interest in the subject and felt like I was just drifted through life. <br /><br />And then one fine in a public library, I discovered the colossal book of mathematics by Gardner. The first chapter on coconut division between men contained a simple to state puzzle with a mind bending solution. Till this day, it remains the only mathematical proof after reading which my hairs stood up.<br /><br />I dived head first into other books by Gardner I could lay my hands on. Gardner's books inspired me to learn more math than what was covered at our institute and soon I finished a text on Elementary number theory and felt comfortable going through some more mathematical works (mostly of combinatorial flavor).<br /><br />Thereafter, I read one account on Turing Machines by Gardner. While I do not recall the details of that particular account, but it inspired in me a love for theoretical computer science. Fast forward to 2013 last year, I started my PhD in theory and I can now feel comfortable saying that there is something I am passionate about -- I am not saying I am good at it; there is just something I am passionate about and that happened only because I chanced upon a book by Gardner.Akashhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/06989706264146599229noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3722233.post-14720926922896811462014-02-03T13:54:08.092-06:002014-02-03T13:54:08.092-06:00Martin Gardner's essays are treasured by many ...Martin Gardner's essays are treasured by many (including me) because they show us, not only beautiful mathematical theorems and principles, but also how to <i>think</i> about mathematical theorems and principles (and as with mathematics, so with theology: Gardner's <i>The Flight of Peter Fromm</i> teaches not only theology, but also how to <i>think</i> about theology).<br /><br />Another math-centric essay that provides a similar dual-illumination to Martin Gardner's (as it seems to me) is Colin McLarty's "The last mathematician from Hilbert's Gottingen: Saunders Mac Lane as philosopher of mathematics" (2007), which in turn touches upon the same themes as McLarty's recent post on Grothendieck's work <a href="http://blog.computationalcomplexity.org/2014/01/fermats-last-theorem-and-large.html?showComment=1390913877125#c7066316196046798184" rel="nofollow">here on <i>Computational Complexity</i></a>.<br /><br /><b>Conclusion</b> Martin Gardner's works prepare us to read works by and/or about Alexander Grothendieck, Saunders Mac Lane, and Bill Thurston; works that seek to illuminate not only mathematical results, but also various avenues for us to <i>think</i> about those results.<br /><br />And not just mathematics, but science, medicine, engineering, and even philosophy too … these mathematical themes have universal value.John Sidleshttps://www.blogger.com/profile/16286860374431298556noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3722233.post-10165949287270817362014-02-03T10:15:24.220-06:002014-02-03T10:15:24.220-06:00Now, now. Al Gore didn't say he invented the ...Now, now. Al Gore didn't say he invented the Internet. He said he "took the initiative in creating the Internet" which to some people is a very different thing for some reason.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.com