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Post re: Hungary: on Hungarians and Math (Steve Torok, Thailand)
Created by John Eipper on 04/28/09 9:53 AM - re-hungary-on-hungarians-and-math-steve-torok-thailand

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re: Hungary: on Hungarians and Math (Steve Torok, Thailand) (John Eipper, USA, 04/28/09 9:53 am)

Steve Torok responds to Istvan Simon's post of 27 April: I'd like to reply to Istvan Simon's post on the issues of US citizenship and its responsibilities, since I completely agree with him, having had a similar journey! So did George Krajcsik, the third US/Hungarian in WAIS. Moreover, in answer to JE's question at the end of the posting: we all three are mathematicians--George a Ph.D.from N.Y.U, Istvan a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford, I a B.A. from Montana with Physics and Mathematics double major, and an M.S. from Stanford in Statistics and O.R. I only abandoned Math for a Ph.D. in Business Economics and Management Information Systems from Columbia--following, perhaps, the example of John from Neumann whose major work was in Economics and Computers. We did not really abandon math but used an intuitive mathematics, Riemannian approach in wider fields, as I still do, using Barabasi's "Linked" approach of countable infinite networks to analyse questions of discourse communities in linguistics and bargaining, multicultural understanding and Ecumenism issues. JE's meeting of John Kemeny (one of my early idols, together with Polya , Szego at Stanford, who were professors emeriti when I came there in 1966, and Renyi whose book in Hungarian I used as reference while studying probability theory as part of my statistics course at Stanford), might give you a clue how to answer your question: why Hungarians in Mathematics? My answer is that studying relations logically, mathematics is a natural tool (even with its known limitations after Goddel's paradox!) and the Hungarian educational system at the beginning of the twentieth century gave a good grounding in it, by having math competitions and a maths journal for high school students. Unfortunately the Bologna system recently introduced seems to be destroying this, just at the time when computers and networks would give unprecedented opportunities for further developments of excellence! The "dominant dialogue" in the Hungarian educational system is flawed while the current Government is in power. On another note, I and other Hungarians have felt "firm ground" under our feet when landing in the US. For me this was in January 1957 when the Merchant Marine ship General Leroy Elting landed in New York Harbor and we disembarked after a stormy Atlantic crossing. I remember making scrambled eggs in the bouncing ship, having been drafted to kitchen duty, then throwing most of it to the sea since most of the passengers and crew were sea-sick (to which as a glider flyer I seem to have been immune). I learned my first English there, from African-American cooks. It had been a long journey... -- For information about the World Association of International Studies (WAIS), and its online publication, the World Affairs Report, read its homepage by simply double-clicking on: http://wais.stanford.edu/ John Eipper, Editor-in-Chief, Adrian College, MI 49221 USA


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