John H. Conway’s Recipe for Success

John H. Conway - A Recipe for Success

I did have a recipe for success, which was always keeping six balls in the air. What I mean is: Always be thinking about six things at once. Not at the same time exactly, but you have one problem, you don’t make any progress on it, and you have another problem to change to. I had a set mix: one of the problems could be a crossword puzzle in the newspaper or something like that. Nowadays it might be a Sudoku puzzle. One of them might be a problem that would instantly make me famous if I solved it, and I don’t expect to solve it, but don’t give up on it; it’s worth trying. There must also be one problem where you can definitely make progress just by working hard enough. Then when the guilt level rises sufficiently—and I felt guilty in Cambridge for not doing any work—you could make progress. It is sort of a routine problem that is not completely dead and might be useful. So that is my recipe for success.

Source: http://www.ams.org/notices/201305/rnoti-p567.pdf

P.S – I discovered after this was written Tanya Khovanova shared something similar here.


The End

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying.” she said. “One can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

– Lewis Carroll Through the Looking-Glass

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One Response to John H. Conway’s Recipe for Success

  1. Nice tip! And I love the Lewis Carroll reference. He was amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

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