Research advice and a search challengeThursday, May 20th, 2010 by Eleanor Rieffel
I was intending to write a post on the varied reasons mathematicians give for taking long walks as an aid to research. I couldn’t find my favorite quote, so instead I’m posting a search challenge.
I thought I remembered reading, in the book Littlewood’s Miscellany, something along the lines of the following advice:
Researchers spend the vast majority of their time feeling frustrated. To improve the ratio of time feeling fulfilled to time feeling frustrated, whenever you find a new result or succeed in completing a proof, take the time to enjoy it, preferably by taking a long walk. Definitely don’t dive into the next problem, or go back and check the proof. There is plenty of time for that later.
However, it doesn’t seem to be in that book. Littlewood certainly approved of walking, and the tone of much of his advice is consistent with this quote, but this particular piece of advice doesn’t appear to be there. I couldn’t find it in a web search either.
I would love to know the true source for this piece of wisdom.
A Tcho chocolate bar to anyone who can track down the source!
Tags: frustration of research, search for original source, walking and research.
Categories: Advice and inspiration, Information seeking, mathematics, Puzzles and Challenges, Research.
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