Mathematicians Of The Day

16th February

Quotation of the day

From Yuri Ivanovich Manin
Of the properties of mathematics, as a language, the most peculiar one is that by playing formal games with an input mathematical text, one can get an output text which seemingly carries new knowledge. The basic examples are furnished by scientific or technological calculations: general laws plus initial conditions produce predictions, often only after time-consuming and computer-aided work. One can say that the input contains an implicit knowledge which is thereby made explicit. One could try to find a parallel in the humanities by comparing this to hermeneutics: the art of finding hidden meanings of sacred texts. Legal discourse, too, has some common traits with scientific discourse. In the course of history, the modern language of science slowly emerged from these two archaic activities, and it still owes a lot to them, especially in the more descriptive and less mathematicised domains.
Mathematics as profession and vocation