May 3, 2008

An Engineer's Apology..

Prelude - Hardy's 'A Mathematician's Apology'. A one-of-its-kind essay which gives a sneak peek into the mind of a mathematician.

Excerpts from the book:

"The function of a mathematician is to do something, to prove new theorems, to add to mathematics, and not to talk about what he or other mathematicians have done. .......there is no scorn more profound, or on the whole more justifiable, than that of the men who make for the men who explain. Exposition, criticism, appreciation, is work for second-rate minds.. "

"Good work is no done by ‘humble’ men. It is one of the first duties of a professor, for example, in any subject, to exaggerate a little both the importance of his subject and his own importance in it."

Mathematicians are a rare breed...an extremely gifted hashset of specimens endowed with an insatiable ego...They contribute more Mathematics, prove conjectures and add more theorems , not because they want them to be practically useful to the world, but because of the "intellectual curiosity, professional pride" they derive out of their research..Euler, one of Mathematics' greatest warriors, is known to have expelled a student from the university for having questioned him for the practical usefulness of a theorem..

One of the most elusive theoroms to be ever solved in Mathematics..the deceivingly simple Fermat's Last Theorem, was considered romantic and honored by the entire mathematical fraternity, not because proving it found an antidote to nuclear reactions, but because of the sensational pride associated with cracking a three-century-old riddle..Andrew Wiles finally proved the theorem after a decade of reclusive work...
And thus, mathematicians continue to live happily ever after....

Engineers on the other hand, solve equations for the sake of practical implications they have...While a mathematician judges a problem by its difficulty, an engineer judges it by its usefulness..And many a time, the supposed usefulness of the solution overshadows the beauty of the very problem that demands it...

Engineering is more sensibility than sense...To make things clearer, how many of us write beautiful code as against working code? And how would one define beauty in engineering? It is best left to the reader to answer that question..In my opinion, there is very little that an engineer can do with his aesthetic sense to satiate his voluptuous pride...

I am not apologizing on behalf of the engineering fraternity...Probably they have more practical reasons to be or not to be than any other exisiting ones...Am apologizing to the mathematical egotist hidden inside every engineer, who is denied a chance to surface in this engineering whirlpool...Warm Regards to thee....

PS - An equally controversial blog post...