Mathematics is…

I’m in Berlin now, doing the German part of my fieldwork. I’m also learning how to say various things in German and getting fascinated by cool phrases (which are probably totally run-of-the-mill for native German speakers, but fascinate me as a learner of the language). Today I’m reading various articles about “Mathematik als Beruf” (mathematics as a profession) and I came across some cool definitions of mathematics:

  • Mathematik ist beharrliches Ringen um endgültige Wahrheiten
  • Mathematik ist heute weltweites Teamwork
  • Mathe erfordert Geduld, Grips und Liebe zum Detail
  • Mathe ist abwechslungsreich, nichts wird doppelt gemacht
  • Mathe belohnt durch Anerkennung sachlicher Ergebnisse

The quotes are from this enticing presentation by Martin Oellrich. It looks so fun it made me think I wish someone had done a presentation like that to us, when I was still in school; and that partly because no one did, I ended up in the wrong discipline.  I must admit, I often have “discipline envy” when researching about what mathematicians do.  I think, however, that the third definition gives one reason why I’m not a mathematician – I most probably don’t have the required patience and love for detail. It’s ok – finding out about people’s working lives is also a fascinating subject to study.

P.S. If you’re an early career mathematician or computer scientist and reading this, melden Sie sich gerne! I’d love to meet up over coffee and cake to learn about your professional story 🙂


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