Does one have to be a genius to do math(s)?

From Terry Tao’s blog, better than I could say it myself:

“I find the reality of mathematical research today – in which progress is obtained naturally and cumulatively as a consequence of hard work, directed by intuition, literature, and a bit of luck – to be far more satisfying than the romantic image that I had as a student of mathematics being advanced primarily by the mystic inspirations of some rare breed of “geniuses”. This “cult of genius” in fact causes a number of problems, since nobody is able to produce these (very rare) inspirations on anything approaching a regular basis, and with reliably consistent correctness. (If someone affects to do so, I advise you to be very sceptical of their claims.) The pressure to try to behave in this impossible manner can cause some to become overly obsessed with “big problems” or “big theories”, others to lose any healthy scepticism in their own work or in their tools, and yet others still to become too discouraged to continue working in mathematics. Also, attributing success to innate talent (which is beyond one’s control) rather than effort, planning, and education (which are within one’s control) can lead to some other problems as well.”

The whole article is here.

3 thoughts on “Does one have to be a genius to do math(s)?

  1. […] that is not accounted for by IQ or traditional personality measures. This is yet another reason the cult of the genius is bad for mathematics; it encourages people to forget the crucial fact that original work in mathematics is almost […]

  2. suma valluru says:

    Hi, i strongly believe that in math the practice only is the key which plays an important role to learn math…with much and good practice, math can be handled easily…

    Suma valluru

  3. jeyatharani says:

    Everyone can do maths. But someone who can think, can only solve the problems. Theories make work easy. But the thinking person without any knowledge, can solve any from the basic. That is why maths is always special. That is why maths is basic to all. That is why maths is favourite to me………

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