The most oft quoted example of beauty and simplicity in mathematical theory especially to lay persons is Euclid’s proof of the existence of infinitely many primes. In a time where the foundations of mathematical theory were being painstakingly laid, such an idea seemed so counter-intuitive that even now, lay persons unfamiliar with this theorem would have a hard time accepting it.
On a bright afternoon in a room on the Extension Corridor in college, Professor Amitabh Tripathi from the Math Department over at IIT expounded on this idea beginning of course with this immortal proof and taking the attendees from basic number theory to advanced group theory and topology as he talked about the many proofs developed as time passed on from Euclid to now. Professors from Stephen’s Math Department including the HOD, Nandita Narain, sat with their students as they themselves went back to the days of looking at the board instead of working on it. Professor Tripathi had everyone’s attention with a comprehensive and extensive presentation and questions came pouring in as the talk progressed in the true spirit of what Cantor once said “In mathematics the art of proposing a question must be held of higher value than solving it.”
The talk was involving such that passersby could be forgiven for thinking that a vigorous afternoon lecture was taking place for the mixed crowd of professors and students.