When researchers in mathematics write grant requests, they are compelled to justify their work to taxpayers and speculate on possible future applications of their research.In the traditional dance of researchers and grant givers, this is well understood: the mathematicians know they are allowed some wishful leeway, and the reviewers generally expect and accept that. Besides, math research is dirt cheap.

But when we talk to the general public, I feel that this overselling is damaging. It misrepresents many of the reasons behind the mathematical endeavor: curiosity, a search of beauty, and a sense of awe which are wholly decoupled from applications…


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Created on Dec 13, 2020
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