In the very first post on this blog, I asked, “Is math fiction?” This series goes deeper.

Many mathematicians feel that they are artists. What makes people describe math as “dreamy and poetic,” “radical, subversive, and psychedelic”?

Is math art?

In the very first post on this blog, I asked, “Is math fiction?” This series goes deeper.

Many mathematicians feel that they are artists. What makes people describe math as “dreamy and poetic,” “radical, subversive, and psychedelic”?

Is math art?

In this post, I try to explain, in the best words I can find, what the experience of math is like for me.

If you have “31” potatoes, how many do you have?

Really. It’s not a trick question. So give it a try — what do you think? How many potatoes do you have when you have “31”?

The point of this post is not to teach or explain anything directly. Instead of walking through the steps of an idea, I am going to tell you three stories.

In the late seventeenth century, a peculiar mystery began. It is a bit of a favorite, as great math legends go. It’s a classic story math professors love to tell.

You’ve seen it before. Maybe you use it all the time. Maybe you haven’t touched it since high school or college. But it is likely that, early in your education, the = sign showed up in some nasty column of homework problems. In that context, “=” seems like a prompt for the answer.