Gelfand Passes

October 8, 2009

Link: Gelfand Passes

The mathematician Israel Gelfand died today. His obituary contrasts the direction of his work—fundamental and tool developing—with his advisor’s, which was more ambitious and difficult to follow. More and more, I’m becoming convinced that spanning fields rather than pushing into the stratosphere of a single one, is the more valuable contribution, if you have the potential to do both.

Though let’s not fool ourselves. Clearly Gelfand was deep in his work. It’s important not to use “broadness” as an excuse for lack of depth.

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