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Let A be a Pedant and Let B be a Pedant

One of my favorite mathematical anecdotes is the following story that Gian-Carlo Rota told about Solomon Lefschetz: He [Solomon Lefschetz] liked to repeat, as an example of mathematical pedantry, the story of one of E. H. Moore’s visits to Princeton, when Moore started a lecture by saying, “Let a be […]

Let’s try to motivate schemes

Recently there has been some controversy over David Mumford’s Nature magazine invited obituary of Alexander Grothendieck being initially rejected on submission (see here and here). At issue was the attempt to explain the mathematical idea of schemes (one of Alexander Grothendieck’s most important contributions) to a non-mathematician audience. Professor Mumford […]