a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|A friend of mine once told me that he believes that mathematicians invented intentionally confusing notations to keep others from understanding what they were saying. I'm sure this is not true. We mathematicians do our best to make our subject understandable, though like any techical subject, this requires so much new terminology and notation that it may look unintelligible to the uninitiated.
Nevertheless, in this short story, a kidnapped mathematician is able to take advantage of this aspect of mathematical notation to send a secret message to his colleagues. The message is supposedly the statement of a theorem which he proved. However, it makes no sense mathematically. Then, another professor realizes that the message is not in the mathematical content, but in the notation itself.
This story appears in the collection Reality Conditions .
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(Maintained by Alex Kasman,
College of Charleston)