Philosophy of Mathematics

Philosophy of Mathematics

by Martin Huxley

A mathematician from Splott
Once proved that what isn’t, is not.
A Berkeley logician
Removed the condition,
Returning us all to square dot. (1970s)

There are proofs that are totally crazy,
And proofs that are tangled and mazy,
And proofs that appear
To be perfectly clear,
Till you notice the details are hazy. (2002)

A Don by the banks of the Isis
Wrote equations of different sizes.
The ones that were long
Were probably wrong,
But a short one won several prizes. (2002)

When the Mathematician was shown
Fighting fires, could he do so alone?
He filled up the bucket,
Made no move to chuck it;
From here the solution was known. (2002)

” They’ve shorn all the sheep,” said the guide.
” Some sheep!” the logician replied.
With greater precision
The mathematician:
” One sheep, and at least on one side!” (2003)

If you wish for success that’s sublime,
Don’t push your exponents — that’s crime.
“We have to recall
That epsilon is small,
And a diffident number each time.” (Oberwolfach, 1988)

If you think that your subject too quiet is,
With none of that wonderful why-it-is,
Just summon the nerve
To work on a curve;
They come in A BILLION varieties. (Amalfi, 1989)

When wine makes our fancy absurd,
” Did you write a joint paper with ERD-
-\H OS?” (or with somebody who
Proved that three equals two,
FIBONACCI hung, drawn and quartered?) (2002)

An insight of POLYA, who knew
More soluble tricks than a few:
If you’re down on your luck,
And a problem gets stuck,
There’s an easier one you can’t do. (2002)

If you value your work kept alive,
Not to rot in some dusty archive,
When sorting the tangles
Of fortunate angles,
Don’t call it `I solved Problem Five!’. (2002)

When PETER’s cat Sigma had strayed,
A reward for returning was paid,
Then the real cat came,
So ‘Igh Tea got its name,
The imagin’ry part it had played. (2002)

There was a young mathematician,
Who excited the utmost derision.
Alarming to tell,
This fellow could spell
‘ Ness-essary’, but not ‘surficient’. (1970s)