He was a master of mathematics in multiple ways, and he influenced mathematicians and mathematical culture throughout his career. Unlike most other master mathematicians, Paul’s legacy was not merely mathematics but rather advice and opinion about mathematical life–writing, publishing, speaking, research, or even thinking about mathematics.
However, apart from the short introduction, the rest of the tribute is a collection of excerpts from the writing of Halmos himself:
How does one write about great writing? Explanations of great expositions always fall falt, like analyses of great poems or elucidations of famous paintings. Art is best enhibited, not explained.
And so here is a collection of excerpts from the writing of Paul Halmos, giving advice, offering opinions, or merely contemplating life as a mathematician–all in his own words.
As I have written in these blog pages earlier, Halmos is one of my favourite mathematical writers; so, I have no hesitation in recommending the piece. You will enjoy it even if you are not a mathematician (either by training, or by temperament or both).
The selection is very thought provoking too; and, one can also see Halmos’ penchant for making controversial (if well argued) comments — see the excerpt on the sociology of mathematics in his “applied mathematics in bad mathematics” piece, for example, or the one on teaching — “The best way to learn is to do; the worst way to teach is to talk “.