(source)

William P. Thurston
(30 Oct 1946  21 Aug 2012)
American mathematician who was awarded the Fields Medal for his work in topology.

Science Quotes by William P. Thurston (4 quotes)
Mathematicians can and do fill in gaps, correct errors, and supply more detail and more careful scholarship when they are called on or motivated to do so. Our system is quite good at producing reliable theorems that can be backed up. Its just that the reliability does not primarily come from mathematicians checking formal arguments; it come from mathematicians thinking carefully and critically about mathematical ideas.
— William P. Thurston
Concerning revision of proofs. In 'On Proof and Progress in Mathematics', For the Learning of Mathematics (Feb 1995), 15, No. 1, 33. Reprinted from Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society (1994), 30, No. 2, 170.
Mathematics as we practice it is much more formally complete and precise than other sciences, but it is much less formally complete and precise for its content than computer programs.
— William P. Thurston
In 'On Proof and Progress in Mathematics', For the Learning of Mathematics (Feb 1995), 15, No. 1, 33. Reprinted from Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society (1994), 30, No. 2, 170.
People are usually not very good in checking formal correctness of proofs, but they are quite good at detecting potential weaknesses or flaws in proofs.
— William P. Thurston
In 'On Proof and Progress in Mathematics', For the Learning of Mathematics (Feb 1995), 15, No. 1, 33. Reprinted from Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society (1994), 30, No. 2, 170.
When one considers how hard it is to write a computer program even approaching the intellectual scope of a good paper, and how much greater time and effort have to be put in to make it almost formally correct, it is preposterous to claim that mathematics as we practice it is anywhere near formally correct.
— William P. Thurston
In 'On Proof and Progress in Mathematics', For the Learning of Mathematics (Feb 1995), 15, No. 1, 33. Reprinted from Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society (1994), 30, No. 2, 170171.
See also:
 30 Oct  short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Thurston's birth.
In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.
(1987) 
Carl Sagan
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Visit our
Science
and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists,
geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists,
pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.
Names index: 
A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

L

M

N

O

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

X

Y

Z 
Categories index: 
1

2

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

L

M

N

O

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

X

Y

Z 