Read and annotate “Mathematics as a Creative Art” (under Readings) and then respond to the following questions. Do not worry about grammar; a thoughtful response is more important than a grammatically correct sentence. When referring to specific ideas from the essay, reference short quotes if possible, and annotate the relevant spots so that during our class discussion you can identify specific passages that you found useful in answering the questions.

1. Who was Paul Halmos? Find some basic biographical information about him. Cite your source(s).

2. Explain in your own words the distinction Halmos makes between “mathology” and “mathophysics”.  Which way would you say you personally lean?  Explain.

3. “Mathematics is the logical dovetailing of a carefully selected sparse set of assumptions with their surprising conclusions via a conceptually elegant proof.” This definition of mathematics is not one that most people would give. How could you take the four elements of the definition–“logical dovetailing”, “set of assumptions”, “surprising conclusions”, and “elegant proof”–and make them plain to a non-math major?

4. We briefly discussed the idea that some students don’t like math because they feel it is useless or don’t realize that is useful for things all around them.  Hence, one solution would be to get more students interested in math by showing them that it’s more useful.  What do you think Halmos would say to this proposal?

5. Identify something from the article that would not have made sense to you before you started your math major but which does make sense to you now.  What experiences have you had that now allow you to understand it?

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