What book are you currently reading? What page are you on?
“Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction by Timothy Gowers. I’m on page 32.”
What do you make of it?
“It’s not purely mathematical writing, but it’s for developing a taste for mathematics. So he’s starting to talk about numbers, and what can you do with numbers, stuff like that. He starts with why we need numbers in the first place. Why do we start talking about rational numbers? Why do we start talking about real numbers? Why do we even care about complex numbers? It makes sense, because we do need numbers. The operations you can do — you can try to understand various phenomena, various things, by understanding numbers and what we do with them.”
Tell me about the style.
“It’s for beginners. It’s a very basic book; he starts from scratch.”
How does it compare with other books you’ve read?
“This is the first not-too-technical mathematical writing that I’ve read. Other books I’ve read [include] some fiction, some philosophical writing. It’s hard to compare nontechnical mathematical writing, [with] say, fiction. It’s very accessible. Even people who have a little bit of interest in mathematics can kick-start their interest and develop a taste for mathematics.”
What books have been meaningful to you?
“I read this book, Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse. It was really good, really meaningful. It was deep. It’s about an individual’s personal journey through his questions. And how he approaches these questions and how he gets the answers to some and does not get the answers [to others]. It’s a very open-ended book. It’s philosophical writing, and it’s something that is up to the reader — the messages in the book are not very clear, and it depends on the reader. That’s something which I liked.”
Any favorite writers?
“No, I’m not a big reader.”
Do you talk to your friends about reading?
“Sometimes, but since I’m not a big reader, it’s hardly our subject matter.”
Name: Rajesh J. | Age: 27 | Occupation: Computer Science Student
Neighborhood: UCSD | Where interviewed: La Jolla Village Square