by Julian M Bucknall

Once upon a time (well, OK, in the mid 70s) in a land far, far away (England), I went to King’s College, London as an undergraduate to study for a degree in Mathematics. Easy peasy, I thought, pure mathematics all day, every day. I could immerse myself in the realm of the pure thought, build up logical edifices, and marvel at how far we’ve come as a race. Not so fast, said someone just before I appeared for my first year, those mathematicians will leave here with a degree, but they won’t be able to function in the real world because they won’t know how to express themselves in writing. They ought to write at least two essays, one at the end of the first year and one at the end of the second. To make it easier for them the essay topics can be mathematics-related, so something like an overview of some branch of mathematics that’s not covered in the syllabus, a biography of the personality that produced some major mathematical result, something like that. […]

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