Mathematicians have pondered the psychology of the members of our tribe probably since mathematics was invented, but for certain since Hadamard’s The Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field. The editors asked two dozen prominent mathematicians (and one spouse thereof) to ruminate on what makes us different. The answers they got are thoughtful, interesting and thought-provoking.
Not all respondents addressed the question directly. Michael Atiyah reflects on the tension between truth and beauty in mathematics. T.W. Körner, Alan Schoenfeld and Hyman Bass chose to write, reflectively and thoughtfully, about teaching and learning. Others, including Ian Stewart and Jane Hawkins, write about the sociology of our community. Many of the contributions range into philosophy of mathematics and the nature of our thought processes. Any mathematician will find much of interest here.
Part I: Who Are Mathematicians?
Foreword to Who Are Mathematicians?
1. Mathematicians and Mathematics Michael Aschbacher
2. What Are Mathematicians Really Like? Observations of a Spouse Pamela Aschbacher
3. Mathematics: Arts and Science Michael Atiyah
4. A Mathematician’s Survival Guide Peter G. Casazza
5. We Are Different Underwood Dudley
6. The Naked Lecturer T.W. Körner
7. Through a Glass Darkly Steven G. Krantz
8. What’s a Nice Guy Like Me Doing in a Place Like This? Alan H. Schoenfeld
9. A Mathematician’s Eye View Ian Stewart
10. I am a Mathematician V. S. Varadarajan
Part II: On Becoming a Mathematician
Foreword to On Becoming a Mathematician
11. Mathematics and Teaching Hyman Bass
12. Who We Are and How We Got That Way? Jonathan M. Borwein
13. Social Class and Mathematical Values in the USA Roger Cooke
14. The Badly Taught High School Calculus Lesson and the Mathematical Journey It Led Me To Keith Devlin
15. The Psychology of Being a Mathematician Sol Garfunkel
16. Dynamics of Mathematical Groups Jane Hawkins
17. Mathematics, Art, Civilization Yuri I. Manin
18. Questions about Mathematics Harold R. Parks
19. A Woman Mathematician’s Journey Mei-Chi Shaw
Part III: Why I Became a Mathematician
Foreword to Why I Became a Mathematician
20. Why I Became a Mathematician: A Personal Account Harold P. Boas
21. Why I Became a Mathematician? Aline Bonami
22. Why I am a Mathematician John P. D’Angelo
23. Why I am a Mathematician Robert E. Greene
24. Why I am a Mathematician Jenny Harrison
25. Why I Became a Mathematician Rodolfo H. Torres