Martin Gardner in the Notices

The two big math organizations in the US are the MAA and the AMS (American Mathematical Society).  Many of the OU faculty are members of the AMS.

One of the things the AMS does is publish a monthly magazine called the AMS Notices which is read by thousands and thousands of mathematicians around the world.  When a famous person in mathematics passes away they often have an article in memory of the person with short essays by various people describing the impact the person had on mathematics.

This Month's AMS Notices (it's a letter from Martin Gardner to Donald Knuth)

Despite not being a professional mathematician nor, indeed, having any math education beyond high school, our local Martin Gardner was recognized in this month’s Notices.  You can read the full article in this month’s Notices here.  But we thought we should at least share one of the included essays:

A blurb on the dust jacket of Martin Gardner’s recent The Colossal Book of Mathematics says:

Warning: Martin Gardner has turned dozens of innocent youngsters into math professors and thousands of math professors into innocent youngsters.

And it’s true.

I met Martin when I was thirteen. He helped get me into mathematics. His books and columns made mathematical ideas accessible and elevated mathematics. More directly, he sometimes helped me do my homework and wrote letters of recom- mendation for my graduate school admissions. I’m a grown-up mathematician now, and paging through the book mentioned above constantly opens my eyes to lovely things.
Martin was a great explainer and debunker of various fads and fallacies. He left us with a mys- tery: How did he do it? How does a man with an undergraduate degree in philosophy touch youngsters and professionals? By clarity. By content: the ratio of examples and theorems to filler is high. By harnessing the best contributions of millions of readers. By hard work: Martin told me that he spent about twenty-five days a month on his Scientific American column. By his enthusiasm for what he explained.

Yet there is something more. Martin’s work stands up to multiple readings. Go take a look.

— Persi Diaconis

From the AMS Notices article.



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