Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Are Mathematicians Past Their Prime at 35?" by Lila Guterman. Chronicle of Higher Education, 1 December 2000, pages A18-A20.

Conventional wisdom holds that a mathematician usually does his or her best work while young. This intriguing article explores whether this stereotype holds true by examining the lives of a number of the brightest young mathematicians. The article notes that mathematics is different from other subjects in that very little life experience is needed to make big advances. On the contrary, some of the best work is done by people who know little and therefore carry no prejudices about what can and cannot be done. The article points to a number of mathematicians, such as Charles Fefferman and Andrew Wiles, who have broken the mold by doing excellent work well after the age of 35.

--- Allyn Jackson