January 10, 2017 at 7:48 am #4148
July 27, 2017 at 7:18 pm #4668
As I read, I could feel my blood starting to boil; I’ll bet you can work out the line that did it for me:
“If I walk to a room and see something written on a blackboard rather than a whiteboard, I’m more likely to assume it was done by a mathematician.”
What a load of elitist crap. Oh, this one too.
“Serious mathematics has always been done on blackboards, so if your proof is written on some other wall-hanging device, it must not be serious mathematics.”
So Ramanujan’s or Einstein’s notebooks, or the messy pieces of paper covering my desk, or the napkin in a restaurant, or kid using a crayon or talking maths out loud isn’t serious mathematics? (I know I’m bending the article’s definition of ‘serious mathematics’.)
And, just to finish my snark:
“You can talk over someone if they’re writing on a smartboard or a whiteboard, that’s a lot harder to do on a blackboard.”
Or you could learn to respectfully interact with your colleagues …
Later there are some perceptive observations, that give real insight into how mathematicians work. This was delightful.
Ultimately, I think this article makes some important points that transcend the type of writing surface used; a few of these are below.
- Provide as many writing surfaces as possible for people to capture their mathematical thoughts.
- Put them in social places, where people can come together (intentionally or coincidentally) to discuss their ideas and collaborate.
- Leave mathematics in visible places, so that people can mull over the ideas.
- Mathematics is physical. Use your body to help convey mathematical ideas and to bring it to life.
- Doing mathematics is messy. What’s more, the ‘inherent messiness … turns out to be a feature, not a bug’.
- Mathematics is a human endeavour, and needs our participation and ideas.
But please don’t think that all mathematicians consider only maths done on a blackboard to be ‘serious mathematics’.