Thomas Vidick: What it is that we do

A wonderful post by Thomas Vidick to cheer you up in difficult times with a lot of food for thought and for discussion. What is it that we (mathematicians) do?

It goes back to ancient Greece and also mention the legendary historian, poet, and philosopher Reviel Nets (whose two wonderful talks in Jerusalem we mentioned here and here).


This post is a follow-up on some somewhat off-hand comments that I made earlier regarding the notion of truth in a “proof-based” discipline such as pure mathematics or theoretical computer science. Since the former is easier to circumscribe and also has a larger literature available on it, for the purposes of the post I will discuss my emerging take on truth in mathematics; what I say applies to TCS as well. (I wasn’t able to find satisfactory writings on the practice of computer science, even more broadly interpreted than just “theory”; any pointers on this are very welcome.) I obviously don’t claim any originality here; I suspect that to some the points I make might be interesting while to others they could feel passé–in the latter case, please help me make progress in the comments!

A circle is a plane figure contained by one line such that all the straight…

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1 Response to Thomas Vidick: What it is that we do

  1. Gil Kalai says:

    Some more comments:

    1. See Thomas’s original post for some further discussion between Thomas and me on the matter of what we (mathematicians and theoretical CS) do.
    2. Boaz Barak mentioned on Twitter  that he raised similar points regarding truth and beauty in his piece about quantum computer skepticism, that we also reblogged  with some commentary here.
    3. Here is Thomas and me in fall 2019.


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