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Thursday, November 23

India, mathematics and beauty !

"...if India didn't exist, no one would have the imagination to invent it."
An article by Mukul Kesavan in Telegraph about why India matters more and more in today's prejudiced world.

Again from Telegraph, For a True Flowering of The Mind by Partha Ghosh. I quote,
"Fourth, we must insist that they learn language and literature well. Without that, they will remain insensitive, incapable of understanding other people and other cultures, and nothing creative will ever emerge from them. Language creates the world we live in. The more sophisticated the language we use, the greater the freedom and power of our thoughts and the better the grasp of reality around us. This is why science had to invent the formal and abstract language of mathematics. Also, without the ability to read, hear, analyse and understand the constant bombardment of our ears and eyes by the media and politicians, and without the ability for clear and logical understanding and self-expression, there is no hope of any freedom of thought or democracy. Without these fundamental conditions there cannot be any scientific development."
And now time for some connection hopping ! While reading the quote above from Mukul Keshvan's article, it sounded errily familiar. A search on google reveled the famous words of G H Hardy about the theorems that Ramanujan's 1913 letter to him contained.
"Only a mathematician of the highest class could have written them. They had to be true, for if they were not, no one would have the imagination to invent them."
It so happened that I recently read the excellent essay A Mathematician's Apology by G H Hardy in which he argues passionately about mathematics as a creative art. According to him the only reason why Mathematics is worth pursuing is because it is beautiful just like the work of a painter or a poet. By an extension of this argument, though Hardy would hardly approve of this since he characterized most of the applied mathematics as dull and ugly, even science is not very far away from the creative arts. Inside the strict framework of scientific methods lies a world where individual imagination and creativity push the cutting edge of science to discover and explain various aspects of physical reality. A cold uninspired mind may be useful for doing second rate work but surely the great strides forward don't come from them. In India, we can blame our education system to a large extent where we manage to do just that, kill the curiosity, kill the sense of amazement and either scare away our young from science or produce second rate researchers. The few success stories of India can safely said to have happened in spite of our education system and not because of it. Even at the level of top technical institutes like IIT, our system is not flexible and liberal enough.

The second article above suggests some measures to cure the problems and incidentally, I came across this post by shunya some days ago. Visit the comments section for some half cooked but good discussion.

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