# famous problems and famous mathematicians

# Number theory: let’s learn it the Nash way !

Reference: A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar.

*Comment: This is approach is quite similar to what Prof. Joseph Silverman explains in his text, “A Friendly Introduction to Number Theory.”*

Peter Sarnak, a brash thirty-five-year-old number theorist whose primary interest is the Riemann Hypothesis, joined the Princeton faculty in the fall of 1990. He had just given a seminar. The tall, thin, white-haired man who had been sitting in the back asked for a copy of Sarnak’s paper after the crowd had dispersed.

Sarnak, who had been a student of Paul Cohen’s at Stanford, knew Nash by reputation as well as by sight, naturally. Having been told many times Nash was completely mad, he wanted to be kind. He promised to send Nash the paper. A few days later, at tea-time, Nash approached him again. He had a few questions, he said, avoiding looking Sarnak in the face. At first, Sarnak just listened politely. But within a few minutes, Sarnak found himself having to concentrate quite hard. Later, as he turned the conversation over in his mind, he felt rather astonished. Nash had spotted a real problem in one of Sarnak’s arguments. What’s more, he also suggested a way around it. “The way he views things is very different from other people,” Sarnak said later. ‘He comes up with instant insights I don’t know I would ever get to. Very, very outstanding insights. Very unusual insights.”

They talked from time to time. After each conversation, Nash would disappear for a few days and then return with a sheaf of computer printouts. Nash was obviously very, very good with the computer. He would think up some miniature problem, usually very ingeniously, and then play with it. If something worked on a small scale, in his head, Sarnak realized, Nash would go to the computer to try to find out if it was “also true the next few hundred thousand times.”

{What really bowled Sarnak over, though, was that Nash seemed perfectly rational, a far cry from the supposedly demented man he had heard other mathematicians describe. Sarnak was more than a little outraged. Here was this giant and he had been all but forgotten by the mathematics profession. And the justification for the neglect was obviously no longer valid, if it had ever been.}

Cheers,

Nalin Pithwa

PS: For RMO and INMO (of Homi Bhabha Science Foundation/TIFR), it helps a lot to use the following: (it can be used with the above mentioned text of Joseph Silverman also): TI nSpire CAS CX graphing calculator.

# Mathematician Dr Neena Gupta shines as the youngest Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar awardee

# You and your research or you and your studies for competitive math exams

# In bubbles, she sees a mathematical universe: Abel Laureate, Prof Karen Uhlenbeck

I was just skimming the biography “A Beautiful Mind” by Sylvia Nasar, about the life of mathematical genius, John Nash, Economics Nobel Laureate (and later Abel Laureate)…

Some math wisdom came to my mind: Good mathematicians look for analogies between theorems but the very best of them look for analogies within analogies; I was reading the following from the biography of John Nash: …It was the great HUngarian-born polymath John von Neumann who first recognized that social behaviour could be analyzed as games. Von Neumann’s 1928 article on parlour games was the first successful attempt to derive logical and mathematical rules about rivalries. Just as Blake saw the universe in a grain of sand, great scientists have often looked for clues to vast and complex problems in the small, familiar phenomena of daily life. Isaac Newton reached insights about the heavens by juggling wooden balls. Einstein contemplated a boat paddling upriver. Von Neumann pondered the game of poker.

And, read how first woman Abel Laureate, genius mathematician Prof Karen Uhlenbeck sees a mathematical universe in bubbles…

Hats off to Prof Karen Uhlenbeck and NY Times author, Siobhan Roberts!!

# Prof. Tim Gowers’ on recognising countable sets

https://gowers.wordpress.com/2008/07/30/recognising-countable-sets/

Thanks Dr. Gowers’. These are invaluable insights into basics. Thanks for giving so much of your time.

# Prof. Tim Gowers’ on functions, domains, etc.

https://gowers.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/domains-codomains-ranges-images-preimages-inverse-images/

Thanks a lot Prof. Gowers! Math should be sans ambiguities as far as possible…!

I hope my students and readers can appreciate the details in this blog article of Prof. Gowers.

Regards,

Nalin Pithwa