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Posts Tagged ‘G. H. Hardy’

Today’s reviews are for a pair of biographical movies about two geniuses.  The men are Srinivasa Ramanujan and Alan Turing.  Technically, both are mathematicians, but Turing is more remembered for his work with computers.  The two movies are titled: “The Man Who Knew Infinity” (2015) about Ramanujan, and “The Imitation Game” (2014) about Turing.
The Man Who Knew Infinity” (2015)  —  movie review
This movie stars Dev Patel as Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan and Jeremy Irons as his British mentor (collaborator) G. H. Hardy.  Basically, a poor, self-taught mathematician moves to Trinity College at Cambridge after mailing some of his work to a world famous mathematics professor (Hardy).  The two collaborate (and publish), but the movie is basically about their personal relationship and not about their maths.  The movie is beautifully shot in both India and England and I was moved by the depictions of both environments: brightly colored poverty contrasted with muted earth-toned (relative) wealth.  A second major plot contrast is Hardy’s atheism vs Ramanujan’s devout Hindu faith.   Ramanujan tells Hardy that his math comes from the lips of his god.  Hardy can only struggle to understand divine inspiration.  In the end, Hardy accepts that his friend believes it is true even if he cannot share that belief.
Final recommendation:  highly recommended and I look forward to reading the book (of the same title) the movie is based on.
The Imitation Game” (2014)   —  movie review
This movie stars  Benedict Cumberbatch (aka Sherlock Holmes / Doctor Strange) as Alan Turing and  Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke who was Turing’s fiancé briefly.  Turing was a homosexual and at that time, being gay was considered a serious crime in England.  Both Turing and Clarke were mathematicians who became cryptologists.  They famously developed a computer which was used to break the Nazi Enigma cypher.   This movie describes this invention and Turing’s subsequent suicide.   As a personal note: I consider Turing to be one of the seminal figures in computer science and in artificial intelligence.  The “test” for general purpose artificial intelligence is named “The Turing Test” and based on one of his papers.
Turing and Clarke worked closely together and are reported to have actually been very close friends although I’ve seen Turing portrayed as almost autistic in dealing with social settings, so I’m not sure how accurate the descriptions or the portrayals have been.  In any case, Turing proposed marriage to Clarke and then later withdrew and admitted to being gay.  The movie purports to Clarke being indifferent to Turing’s sexuality as she is contented with having a relationship with a friend and an intellectual equal.
The “surprise” hack at the end of the movie is the realization that the Nazi messages all end the same and this can be used as a key to reduce the number of variations the computer needs to evaluate.  Whether this is what actually happened or not, I don’t know, but it did make for a plausible ending!  Final recommendation:  highly recommended!
While I enjoyed both movies I would rate “Infinity” slightly higher than “Imitation”.  I’m not really sure why, but I’ve already re-watched “Infinity” twice and I’m just getting around to my second viewing of “Imitation”.  But, again, both highly recommended…
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On This Day In:
2016 Come Dance And Laugh With Me
2015 Looks Good To Me
2014 Desire For The Sea
2013 The Fierce Urgency Of NOW
Happy Inauguration Day!
2012 One Path
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The Seven Year View
2011 Emergent Practicality

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It is indeed rather astonishing how little practical value scientific knowledge has for ordinary men, how dull and commonplace such of it as has value is, and how its value seems almost to vary inversely to its reputed utility.
   —  G. H. Hardy
From his book: “A Mathematician’s Apology
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Sometimes one has to say difficult things, but one ought to say them as simply as one knows how.
  —  G. H. Hardy
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Minor Gifts

For any serious purpose, intelligence is a very minor gift.
  —  G. H. Hardy
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A science is said to be useful if its development tends to accentuate the existing inequalities in the distribution of wealth, or more directly promotes the destruction of human life.
  —   G. H. Hardy
From his book:  “A Mathematician’s Apology
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A man who sets out to justify his existence and his activities has to distinguish two different questions.  The first is whether the work which he does is worth doing; and the second is why he does it, whatever its value may be.
 —    G. H. Hardy
From his book:  “A Mathematician’s Apology
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Today’s entry is about a book I read and a movie I watched a couple of weeks ago but haven’t gotten around to reviewing.  The book is: “A Mathematician’s Apology” by G. H. Hardy, 1940©.  The movie is: “Act of Valor“.
Hardy’s “Apology” is a quasi-autobiographic discussion of math, ideas and science.  Hardy has a self-deprecating style which almost reaches the point of false modesty.  During his lifetime, Hardy was considered one of the five most brilliant mathematicians in the world.  His love for his subject – math, not himself – is evident; as is his sense of loss when he realizes he is too old to continue productive work.  As difficult as this may be for some to believe (me for example), most cutting edge mathematics is done by those under 30 years of age.  In fact, it is almost parallel with the life of a world-class athlete – demonstrate early potential (pre-teens), exceed your peers at an early age (pre-20’s), make your mark (pre-30’s), then (if you’re lucky) find others you can mentor and teach (post-30’s).
But what happens when you don’t want to admit you don’t have it any move?  Does it make you bitter, or just sad?  Or maybe, a bit of both.  This seems to be the case with Hardy.  I found this book on the $2.00 rack at my local used-book store.  I opened it and read the last two paragraphs which have been previously quoted, see:  “Life’s Last Question” and “Something Of Value“.  As I don’t personally share Hardy’s value system for evaluating one’s life, it is difficult for me to appreciate the sadness his words seem to relate, but I have enough empathy for him to appreciate his sense of gradual dissolution and fade into the unknown (death).  And, it doesn’t hurt to be getting on in years myself.
The movie: “Act of Valor” is your basic heroic action flick.  It’s claim to fame is that it uses some real-life Navy SEALs in the actors roles.  It is very gung-ho and American patriotic.  If you are into that (and I am), it’s a good action movie with bad acting.  If you can’t get past the “Rah-Rah America”, you’ll have a hard time getting through the bad acting to wait for the next action.  The special effects are just okay.  I liked the movie, but I can easily see why a lot of folks will not.  I got the DVD on the cheap, but I’d say most will wait another couple of months for this to move to TV.  To be honest, I enjoyed “Battle: Los Angeles” a lot more.  Just as much “Rah-Rah”, but much better acting and special effects.  Of course, “B:LA” was SciFi, not “made-up” battling terrorists.  Like I said, wait for it (“AoV”) to come to TV.
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If a man has any genuine talent, he should be ready to make almost any sacrifice in order to cultivate it to the full.
  —    G. H. Hardy
From his book:  “A Mathematician’s Apology
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The case for my life, then, or for that of any one else who has been a mathematician in the same sense in which I have been one, is this: that I have added something to knowledge, and helped others to add more; and that these somethings have a value which differs, in degree only, and not in kind, from that of the creations of the great mathematicians, or of any of the other artists, great or small, who have left some kind of memorial behind them.
  —    G. H. Hardy
From his book:  “A Mathematician’s Apology
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I have just one chance of escaping a verdict of complete triviality, that I may be judged to have created something worth creating.  And that I have created something is undeniable: the question is about its value.
    —    G. H. Hardy
From his book:  “A Mathematician’s Apology
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