Bart M. P. Jansen


The following is a quote from Halmos' I Want to be a Mathematician: An Automathography.

Mathematical talent is probably congenital, but aside from that the most important attribute of a genuine professional mathematician is scholarship. The scholar is always studying, always ready and eager to learn. The scholar knows the connections of this specialty with the subject as a whole; he knows not only the technical details of his specialty, but its history and its present standing; he knows about the others who are working on it and how far they have reached. He knows the literature, and he trusts nobody; he himself examines the original paper. He acquires firsthand knowledge not only of its intellectual content, but also of the date of the work, the spelling of the author's name, and the punctuation in the title; he insists on getting every detail of every reference absolutely straight. The scholar tries to be as broad as possible. No one can know all of mathematics, but the scholar can succeed in knowing the outline of it all: what are its parts and what are their places in the whole? These are the things, some of the things, that go to make up a pro.