Sunday, July 18, 2010


JSH: Why do math research?

I use Usenet to brainstorm and in this cycle have wondered at times myself, what am I working on exactly now? And it occurs to me that I'm moving to what I think is a meta problem which is the global question of: why would anyone do mathematical research?

And anyone can.

I've repeatedly noted that I'm not a mathematician. And I do admittedly amateur math research for complex reasons and having come up with various explanations over the years, I've decided that a key one is that I ENJOY my little scribblings on lots of paper, and talking about them even in areas where a lot of people are mean to me, as I don't have any other places.

Rather than not talk about my math unless I can get feedback without nastiness as well, I have had to try and learn how to deal with the nastiness, and stay focused on the why of posting itself, which I do. I use Usenet.

So then, why should anyone do mathematical research? And can anyone do it? Do modern professional practitioners sufficiently hold the door open to outsiders? Or do they try to hold it closed claiming only they do it best? Do they do it best?

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