Big Data’s Mathematical Mysteries

At a dinner I attended some years ago, the distinguished differential geometer Eugenio Calabi volunteered to me his tongue-in-cheek distinction between pure and applied mathematicians. A pure mathematician, when stuck on the problem under study, often decides to narrow the problem further and so avoid the obstruction. An applied mathematician interprets being stuck as an indication that it is time to learn more mathematics and find better tools. Quantized A monthly column in which top researchers explore the process of discovery. This month’s columnist, Ingrid Daubechies, is the James B. Duke Professor of Mathematics and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University. I have always loved this point of view; it explains how applied mathematicians will always need to make use of the new concepts and structures that are constantly…

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