## Table of contentsWhat is mathematics? The realm of mathematics Cruel humor Loo-Keng Hua |

Gauss himself |
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Therefore I do not claim that mathematics is a science, but opinions differ. Stanford awards a Bachelor of Science degree for graduating in mathematics; UCLA, a Bachelor of Arts. Gauss himself – a scientist by any standard (also the deepest and the strongest mathematical genius) said that mathematics is "the queen of the sciences." Go figure.

The realm of mathematics is pure reason. Only in mathematics, can one with absolute certainty distinguish right from wrong. Conversely, with no particular brilliance, no particular facility at computation, no particular talent, except the rather mechanical ability to distinguish rigorous thinking from bluster, there still can be adequate mathematics.

I asked Gordon, my advisor, "How far can you get in mathematics without being smart?"

"Quite far," he said.

Gauss felt that number theory is the queen of mathematics. I studied number theory, which is far removed from what I’m doing now. Suffice it to say that I had to modify my prejudices and motivations to come to this point. I also had to pick up areas like statistics on the street.

"Number theory of course," said Straus, "Look who he’s talking to." I noticed the stranger to whom Straus referred, our visiting speaker, engaged in conversation with a wispily bearded algebraist fellow from the department. Algebra is somewhat allied to number theory, and is certainly a "pure" discipline.

"Do you mean," I asked, "that pure mathematicians never talk to statisticians?"

"Well," Straus assured me, "certainly algebraists don’t."

story: The speaker was in fact the emminent number theorist Loo-Keng Hua, (1910-1985) who was the most famous mathematician in China and whose remarkable history may be the inspiration for part of the story in the movie Good Will Hunting.

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