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Mathematics without ApologiesPortrait of a Problematic Vocation$
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Michael Harris

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691175836

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691175836.001.0001

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Not Merely Good, True, and Beautiful

Not Merely Good, True, and Beautiful

Chapter:
(p.54) Chapter 3 Not Merely Good, True, and Beautiful
Source:
Mathematics without Apologies
Author(s):

Michael Harris

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691175836.003.0004

This chapter considers two proposed paradigm shifts that are challenging the professional autonomy to which mathematics has grown attached. The first proposal stems from the economic crisis that began in 2008, which placed universities under enormous stress. Thus, mathematicians, when presenting the case for research support to the powers that be, now find it necessary to point to potential commercial or industrial spinoffs. The second proposed paradigm shift arises from within the profession. It stems from an observation that proofs in some areas of mathematics are growing increasingly elaborate, involving in some cases hundreds of pages of calculations or expertise in too many areas to be fully understood by any one mathematician. Traditional methods exhaust the physical limits of human beings as presently configured and for that reason are deemed inadequate to confer legitimacy on some of the most remarkable theorems of the past few decades.

Keywords:   mathematicians, mathematics, professional autonomy

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