Paul R. Halmos

A Quote by Paul R. Halmos on mathematics

...the source of all great mathematics is the special case, the concrete example. It is frequent in mathematics that every instance of a concept of seemingly great generality is in essence the same as a small and concrete special case.

Paul R. Halmos

Source: I Want to be a Mathematician, Washington: MAA Spectrum, 1985.

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Paul R. Halmos on christmas and students

... the student skit at Christmas contained a plaintive line: "Give us Master's exams that our faculty can pass, or give us a faculty that can pass our Master's exams."

Paul R. Halmos

Source: I Want to be a Mathematician, Washington: MAA Spectrum, 1985.

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Paul R. Halmos on ability, driving, luck, mathematics, and talent

To be a scholar of mathematics you must be born with talent, insight, concentration, taste, luck, drive and the ability to visualize and guess.

Paul R. Halmos

Source: I Want to be a Mathematician, Washington: MAA Spectrum, 1985.

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Paul R. Halmos on errors, justice, mathematics, reason, and science

Mathematics is not a deductive science -- that's a cliche. When you try to prove a theorem, you don't just list the hypotheses, and then start to reason. What you do is trial and error, experimentation, guesswork.

Paul R. Halmos

Source: I Want to be a Mathematician, Washington: MAA Spectrum, 1985.

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Paul R. Halmos on joy, learning, secrets, truth, and vision

The joy of suddenly learning a former secret and the joy of suddenly discovering a hitherto unknown truth are the same to me -- both have the flash of enlightenment, the almost incredibly enhanced vision, and the ecstasy and euphoria of released tension.

Paul R. Halmos

Source: I Want to be a Mathematician, Washington: MAA Spectrum, 1985.

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Paul R. Halmos on justice, proof, and questions

Don't just read it; fight it! Ask your own questions, look for your own examples, discover your own proofs. Is the hypothesis necessary? Is the converse true? What happens in the classical special case? What about the degenerate cases? Where does the proof use the hypothesis?

Paul R. Halmos

Source: I Want to be a Mathematician, Washington: MAA Spectrum, 1985.

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Paul R. Halmos on authors, certainty, and theory

I remember one occasion when I tried to add a little seasoning to a review, but I wasn't allowed to. The paper was by Dorothy Maharam, and it was a perfectly sound contribution to abstract measure theory. The domains of the underlying measures were not sets but elements of more general Boolean algebras, and their range consisted not of positive numbers but of certain abstract equivalence classes. My proposed first sentence was: "The author discusses valueless measures in pointless spaces."

Paul R. Halmos

Source: I want to be a Mathematician, Washington: MAA Spectrum, 1985, p. 120.

Contributed by: Zaady

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