What is the appeal of math?


Mathematics holds appeal for various reasons, as discussed by experts on Lex Fridman's podcast.

  1. Discovery vs. Invention: Lex Fridman and explored whether mathematics is discovered or invented. Po-Shen Loh leans towards discovery, noting that mathematical truths seem universal. For instance, the concept of π is significant because circles naturally appear in the universe, suggesting that mathematics is revealing fundamental truths rather than creating new ones 1.

  2. Abstract Beauty: shared his fascination with the abstract nature of higher mathematics. He was captivated by how college-level math moves beyond numbers to concepts and variables. This abstraction seems to reflect and explain the natural world despite being removed from it. Reisman found a balance between the rigorous, logical realm of math and the tangible, natural world, highlighting the intellectual beauty of abstract problem-solving 2.

In summary, the appeal of mathematics lies in its capacity to reveal universal truths and its inherent abstract beauty. For many, it offers a profound way to understand and connect with both the natural and conceptual worlds.

Discovering Mathematics

Po-Shen and Lex discuss whether mathematics is discovered or invented, and the possibility of communicating mathematical concepts with alien species purely through visuals. They also touch on the hope that the curiosity for knowledge will overpower the desire for resources and violence when we finally meet aliens.

Lex Fridman Podcast

Po-Shen Loh: Mathematics, Math Olympiad, Combinatorics & Contact Tracing | Lex Fridman Podcast #183