Wednesday, September 08, 2004


In one of the (unfortunately lost) comedies of Aristophanes the Voice of the Mathematician appeared, as it descended from a snow-capped mountain peak, pronouncing in a ponderous sing-song -- and words which to the audience sounded like complete gibberish -- his eternal Theorems, Lemmas, and Corollaries. The laughter of the listeners was enhanced by the implication that in fifty years' time another Candidate of Eternity would pronounce from the same snow-capped mountain peak exactly the same theorems, although in a modified but scarcely less ponderous and incomprehensible language.
-- C. Lanczos, preface to Linear Differential Operators