Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dead Reckoning

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 5:28 PM

Continued from yesterday evening

IMAGE- Bogart in 'Casablanca' with chessboard

Today's mathematical birthday — 

Claude Chevalley, 11 Feb. 1909 – 28 June 1984.

From MacTutor —

Chevalley's daughter, Catherine Chevalley, wrote about
her father in "Claude Chevalley described by his daughter"

For him it was important to see questions as a whole, to see the necessity of a proof, its global implications. As to rigour, all the members of Bourbaki cared about it: the Bourbaki movement was started essentially because rigour was lacking among French mathematicians, by comparison with the Germans, that is the Hilbertians. Rigour consisted in getting rid of an accretion of superfluous details. Conversely, lack of rigour gave my father an impression of a proof where one was walking in mud, where one had to pick up some sort of filth in order to get ahead. Once that filth was taken away, one could get at the mathematical object, a sort of crystallized body whose essence is its structure. When that structure had been constructed, he would say it was an object which interested him, something to look at, to admire, perhaps to turn around, but certainly not to transform. For him, rigour in mathematics consisted in making a new object which could thereafter remain unchanged.

The way my father worked, it seems that this was what counted most, this production of an object which then became inert— dead, really. It was no longer to be altered or transformed. Not that there was any negative connotation to this. But I must add that my father was probably the only member of Bourbaki who thought of mathematics as a way to put objects to death for aesthetic reasons.

Recent scholarly news suggests a search for Chapel Hill
in this journal. That search leads to Transformative Hermeneutics.
Those who, like Professor Eucalyptus of Wallace Stevens's
New Haven, seek God "in the object itself" may contemplate
yesterday's afternoon post on Eightfold Design in light of the
Transformative post and of yesterday's New Haven remarks and
Chapel Hill events.

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