Gian-Carlo Rota Quotes
31 Sourced Quotes
THE COMPUTER IS JUST AN INSTRUMENT for doing faster what we already know how to do slower. All pretensions to computer intelligence and paradise-tomorrow promises should be toned down before the public turns away in disgust. And if that should happen, our civilization might not survive.
We take offense at those truths that threaten any of the myths we profess to believe in. Taking offense is an effective way we have of shutting off some unpleasant truth. It works. It enables us to restore a hold on our dearest myths, to last until the next offending myth comes along.
Every field has its taboos. In algebraic geometry the taboos are (1) writing a draft that can be followed by anyone but two or three of one's closest friends, (2) claiming that a result has applications, (3) mentioning the word 'combinatorial,' and (4) claiming that algebraic geometry existed before Grothendieck (only some handwaving references to 'the Italians' are allowed provided they are not supported by specific references).
Mathematics is a cruel profession. Solving a mathematical problem is for most mathematicians an arduous and lengthy process which may take years, even a lifetime. The final conquest of the truth comes, if ever, inevitably tinged with disillusion, soured by the realization of the ultimate irrelevance of all intellectual endeavor.
Biologists seldom have the mathematical view that is required to spot problems in the mathematics of biology that are staring at them. A biologist will never see anything deeper than binomial coefficients. It is not that the problems aren't there; rather, biologists don't have the view that comes with a solid education in mathematics.