Rango Finito

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Poincaré arrived at an exceptionally early hour of the morning, complaining at once about the behaviour of the mathematician Weierstrass, Sophia’s old mentor, who had been one of the judges for the king of Sweden’s recent mathematical prize. Poincaré had indeed been awarded the prize, but Weierstrass had seen fit to announce that there were possible errors in his—Poincare’s—work that he, Weierstrass, had not been given some time to investigate. He had sent a letter submitting his annotated queries to the king of Sweden—as if such a personage would know what he was talking about. And he had made some statement about Poincaré being valued in future more for the negative than the positive aspects of his work.

Sophia soothed him, telling him she was on her way to see Weierstrass and would take the matter up with him. She pretended not to have heard anything about it, though she had actually written a teasing letter to her old teacher.

“I am sure the king has had much of his royal sleep disturbed since your information arrived. Just think of how you have upset the royal mind hitherto so happily ignorant of mathematics. Take care you don’t make him repent of his generosity…”

“And after all,” she said to Jules [Poincaré], “after all you do have the prize and will have it forever.”

Jules agreed, adding that his own name would shine when Weierstrass would be forgotten.

Every one of us will be forgotten, Sophia thought but did not say, because of the tender sensibilities of men—particularly of a young man—on this point.

A. Munro, Too Much Happiness

Corrección: Dijkstra sí sabe

Aquí abajo digo que Dijkstra desconoce la naturaleza del trabajo matemático. Me retracto. La conoce, pero considera (penúltimo párrafo) que, como la programación, está igualmente corrupta por la perniciosa informalidad:

And from the mathematical community I have learned not to expect too much support either, as informality is the hallmark of the Mathematical Guild, whose members —like poor programmers— derive their intellectual excitement from not quite knowing what they are doing and prefer to be thrilled by the marvel of the human mind (in particular their own ones). For them, the Dream of Leibniz is a Nightmare.