This week, I saw that a mathematician I’d never really heard of passed away. He was famous enough, a probabilist and game theorist at UC Berkeley, and he was a member of the National Academy of Sciences. This morning, I read an article about him at NYTimes.com, here.
A quote at the end of the piece jumped out at me.
Basically, I’m not interested in doing research and I never have been. I’m interested in understanding, which is quite a different thing. And often to understand something you have to work it out yourself because no one else has done it.
A juxtaposition of great professional accomplishment and intense personal curiosity.