## A Younger Man's Game?May 2, 2014 It's often thought that mathematics is a younger man's game. English mathematician, number theorist, and sponsor of Ramanujan, Godfrey Harold "G. H." Hardy (1877-1947), expressed this idea obliquely in his "A Mathematician's Apology." A more direct quotation of his was recalled by Freeman Dyson,"Young Men should prove theorems, old men should write books."[1]
^{2} at age 26.
counterexamples are an important part of mathematics, and it's in the counterexamples that we see that the "younger man" principle is flawed. Andrew Wiles, who published his proof of Fermat's Last Theorem[3] in 1995 with an assist from Richard Taylor, was more than forty at the time.
There's the further example of Russian mathematician, Grigori Perelman, who was 43 when his proof of the Poincaré conjecture was certified by the Clay Mathematics Institute. We can also cite Paul Erdos, who was a prolific mathematician through the time of his death at age 83. Erdos was awarded the Wolf Prize at age seventy.
## References:- D J Albers, "Freeman Dyson: Mathematician, Physicist, and Writer," The College Mathematics Journal, vol. 25, no. 1 (January, 1994).
- Jordan Ellenberg, "Is Math a Young Man's Game?" Slate, May 16, 2003.
- Fermat's Last Theorem is simply stated: There are no positive integers a, b, and c that satisfy a
^{n}+ b^{n}= c^{n}when n>2. - Richard Reeves, "A Force of Nature: The Frontier Genius of Ernest Rutherford," W. W. Norton, December 3, 2007, 208 pp. (via Amazon).
- Santo Fortunato, "Prizes: Growing time lag threatens Nobels," Nature, vol. 508, no. 7495 (April 10, 2014), p. 186.
- Nobel prize candidates wait often over 20 years to win their prize, Aalto University Press Release, April 11, 2014.
Linked Keywords: Mathematics; English; mathematician; number theory; number theorist; Srinivasa Ramanujan; Godfrey Harold "G. H." Hardy (1877-1947); A Mathematician's Apology; Freeman Dyson; xkcd comic no. 447; xkcd Comics; Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License; 19th century; French; Évariste Galois; group theory; Norwegian; Niels Henrik Abel; Abelian functions; theoretical physics; Albert Einstein; mass-energy equivalence; E = mc |
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