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Mathematicians: An Outer View of the Inner World - Manjul Bhargava

The Secret Life of Scientists and EngineersThe Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

Mariana Cook’s book Mathematicians: An Outer View of the Inner World was published by Princeton University Press in 2009 and is a remarkable collection of ninety-two photographic portraits featuring many of the most notable mathematicians of our time. Each photograph is accompanied by a brief personal essay either written by the mathematician or edited from an interview Cook conducted with him or her. For more information, please visit Mariana Cook’s website:

5374_Bhargava, Manjul
Manjul Bhargava - Photos and Text ©Mariana Cook “Mathematicians: An Outer View of the Inner World”

I always found these three subjects—music, poetry, and mathematics—very similar. This is true, to a large extent, for all pure mathematicians. In school, mathematics is generally grouped in the “science” category. But for mathematicians, mathematics, like music, poetry, or painting, is a creative art. All these arts involve—and indeed require—a certain creative fire. They all strive to express truths that cannot be expressed in ordinary everyday language. And they all strive towards beauty.