Excerpts from the "Fermat's Last Theorem Poetry Challenge" Page
Author: Maurice Machover
Fermat's theorem has been solved,
What will now make math evolve?
There are many problems still,
None of which can cause that thrill.
Years and years of history,
Gave romance to Fermat-spree,
Amateurs and top men too,
Tried to push this theorem through.
Some have thought they reached the goal,
But were shipwrecked on the shoal,
So the quest grew stronger still;
Who would pay poor Fermat's bill?
So what is now the pearl to probe,
The snark to hunt, the pot of gold,
The fish to catch, the rainbow's end,
The distant call towards which to tend?
One such goal's the number brick,
where integers to all lengths stick:
To sides, diagonals, everyone,
Does is exist or are there none?
Then there are those famous pearls,
that have stymied kings and earls:
Goldbach, Twin Primes, Riemann Zeta;
No solutions, plenty data.
Find a perfect number odd;
Through 3n+1 go plod;
Will the P=NP?
Send a code unbreakably.
Are independence proofs amiss;
Find a proof which has some texture
of the Poincare conjecture.
And so, you see, onward we sail,
there still are mountains we must scale;
But now there's something gone from math,
At Fermat's end we weep and laugh.
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Author: Matt Baker
Once upon a midnight dreary,
As I pondered weak and weary,
O'er many a quaint and etale sort of cohomology,
While inducing representations,
I was led to deformations,
And the ramifications of modular forms in characteristic p.
So I struggled to break free.
Ah, discreetly I conjectured,
to myself alone I lectured,
As the virile bust of Fermat wrought its ghost upon my floor,
Suddenly there came an insight,
that these flat group schemes were finite
And I represented functors never dreamed about before.
Then my soul began to soar.
"Taniyama!" I then shouted,
As the logic from me spouted,
"It all comes down to looking at the prime l equals 3!"
Modularity is the conclusion,
And the Frey curve an illusion,
So Fermat's equation cannot have nontrivial roots in Z!
Quoth the raven, "Q.E.D".
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Hiawatha Designs an Experiment
by W. E. Mientka, "Professor Leo Moser -- Reflections of a Visit"
American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 79, Number 6 (June-July, 1972)
See also "Applied Dynamic Programming" by Bellman and Dreyfuss, prior to 1962.
Hiawatha, mighty hunter,
He could shoot ten arrows upward,
Shoot them with such strength and swiftness
That the last had left the bow-string
Ere the first to earth descended.
This was commonly regarded
As a feat of skill and cunning.
Several sarcastic spirits
Pointed out to him, however,
That it might be much more useful
If he sometimes hit the target.
"Why not shoot a little straighter
And employ a smaller sample?"
Hiawatha, who at college
Majored in applied statistics,
Consequently felt entitled
To instruct his fellow man
In any subject whatsoever,
Waxed exceedingly indignant,
Talked about the law of errors,
Talked about truncated normals,
Talked of loss of information,
Talked about his lack of bias,
Pointed out that (in the long run)
Even though they missed the target,
Had an average point of impact
Very near the spot he aimed at,
With the possible exception
of a set of measure zero.
"This," they said, "was rather doubtful;
Anyway it didn't matter.
What resulted in the long run:
Either he must hit the target
Much more often than at present,
Or himself would have to pay for
All the arrows he had wasted."
Hiawatha, in a temper,
Quoted parts of R. A. Fisher,
Quoted Yates and quoted Finney,
Quoted reams of Oscar Kempthorne,
Quoted Anderson and Bancroft
(practically in extenso)
Trying to impress upon them
That what actually mattered
Was to estimate the error.
Several of them admitted:
"Such a thing might have its uses;
Still," they said, "he would do better
If he shot a little straighter."
Hiawatha, to convince them,
Organized a shooting contest.
Laid out in the proper manner
Of designs experimental
Recommended in the textbooks,
Mainly used for tasting tea
(but sometimes used in other cases)
Used factorial arrangements
And the theory of Galois,
Got a nicely balanced layout
And successfully confounded
Second order interactions.
All the other tribal marksmen,
Ignorant benighted creatures
Of experimental setups,
Used their time of preparation
Putting in a lot of practice
Merely shooting at the target.
Thus it happened in the contest
That their scores were most impressive
With one solitary exception.
This, I hate to have to say it,
Was the score of Hiawatha,
Who as usual shot his arrows,
Shot them with great strength and swiftness,
Managing to be unbiased,
Not however with a salvo
Managing to hit the target.
"There!" they said to Hiawatha,
"That is what we all expected."
Hiawatha, nothing daunted,
Called for pen and called for paper.
But analysis of variance
Finally produced the figures
Showing beyond all peradventure,
Everybody else was biased.
And the variance components
Did not differ from each other's,
Or from Hiawatha's.
(This last point it might be mentioned,
Would have been much more convincing
If he hadn't been compelled to
Estimate his own components
From experimental plots on
Which the values all were missing.)
Still they couldn't understand it,
So they couldn't raise objections.
(Which is what so often happens
with analysis of variance.)
All the same his fellow tribesmen,
Ignorant benighted heathens,
Took away his bow and arrows,
Said that though my Hiawatha
Was a brilliant statistician,
He was useless as a bowman.
As for variance components
Several of the more outspoken
Make primeval observations
Hurtful of the finer feelings
Even of the statistician.
In a corner of the forest
Sits alone my Hiawatha
On the normal law of errors.
Wondering in idle moments
If perhaps increased precision
Might perhaps be sometimes better
Even at the cost of bias,
If one could thereby now and then
Register upon a target.
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Near a Raven
by Mike Keith
Start at the very beginning (with the word 'Poe') and write next to each word the
number of letters it contains. Put a decimal point after the first digit. Look at the
first few digits (or more if, like me, you know the first several hundred by heart). Are
you impressed yet?
"Near a Raven" encodes the first 740 decimals of pi. The encoding rule is this: a
word of N letters represents the digit N if N<9, the digit 0 if N=10, and two adjacent
digits if N>10 (e.g., a 12-letter word represents the digit '1' followed by '2').
Check the first few digits of pi against this approximation:
Near a Raven
Midnights so dreary, tired and weary.
Silently pondering volumes extolling all by-now obsolete lore.
During my rather long nap - the weirdest tap!
An ominous vibrating sound disturbing my chamber's antedoor.
"This", I whispered quietly, "I ignore".
Perfectly, the intellect remembers: the ghostly fires, a glittering ember.
Inflamed by lightning's outbursts, windows cast penumbras upon this floor.
Sorrowful, as one mistreated, unhappy thoughts I heeded:
That inimitable lesson in elegance - Lenore -
Is delighting, exciting...nevermore.
Ominously, curtains parted (my serenity outsmarted),
And fear overcame my being - the fear of "forevermore".
Fearful foreboding abided, selfish sentiment confided,
As I said, "Methinks mysterious traveler knocks afore.
A man is visiting, of age threescore."
Taking little time, briskly addressing something: "Sir," (robustly)
"Tell what source originates clamorous noise afore?
Disturbing sleep unkindly, is it you a-tapping, so slyly?
Why, devil incarnate!--" Here completely unveiled I my antedoor--
Just darkness, I ascertained - nothing more.
While surrounded by darkness then, I persevered to clearly comprehend.
I perceived the weirdest dream...of everlasting "nevermores".
Quite, quite, quick nocturnal doubts fled - such relief! - as my intellect said,
(Desiring, imagining still) that perchance the apparition was uttering a whispered "Lenore".
This only, as evermore.
Silently, I reinforced, remaining anxious, quite scared, afraid,
While intrusive tap did then come thrice - O, so stronger than sounded afore.
"Surely" (said silently) "it was the banging, clanging window lattice."
Glancing out, I quaked, upset by horrors hereinbefore,
Perceiving: a "nevermore".
Completely disturbed, I said, "Utter, please, what prevails ahead.
Repose, relief, cessation, or but more dreary 'nevermores'?"
The bird intruded thence - O, irritation ever since! -
Then sat on Pallas' pallid bust, watching me (I sat not, therefore),
And stated "nevermores".
Bemused by raven's dissonance, my soul exclaimed, "I seek intelligence;
Explain thy purpose, or soon cease intoning forlorn 'nevermores'!"
"Nevermores", winged corvus proclaimed - thusly was a raven named?
Actually maintain a surname, upon Pluvious seashore?
I heard an oppressive "nevermore".
My sentiments extremely pained, to perceive an utterance so plain,
Most interested, mystified, a meaning I hoped for.
"Surely," said the raven's watcher, "separate discourse is wiser.
Therefore, liberation I'll obtain, retreating heretofore -
Eliminating all the 'nevermores' ".
Still, the detestable raven just remained, unmoving, on sculptured bust.
Always saying "never" (by a red chamber's door).
A poor, tender heartache maven - a sorrowful bird - a raven!
O, I wished thoroughly, forthwith, that he'd fly heretofore.
Still sitting, he recited "nevermores".
The raven's dirge induced alarm - "nevermore" quite wearisome.
I meditated: "Might its utterances summarize of a calamity before?"
O, a sadness was manifest - a sorrowful cry of unrest;
"O," I thought sincerely, "it's a melancholy great - furthermore,
Removing doubt, this explains 'nevermores' ".
Seizing just that moment to sit - closely, carefully, advancing beside it,
Sinking down, intrigued, where velvet cushion lay afore.
A creature, midnight-black, watched there - it studied my soul, unawares.
Wherefore, explanations my insight entreated for.
Silently, I pondered the "nevermores".
"Disentangle, nefarious bird! Disengage - I am disturbed!"
Intently its eye burned, raising the cry within my core.
"That delectable Lenore - whose velvet pillow this was, heretofore,
Departed thence, unsettling my consciousness therefore.
She's returning - that maiden - aye, nevermore."
Since, to me, that thought was madness, I renounced continuing sadness.
Continuing on, I soundly, adamantly forswore:
"Wretch," (addressing blackbird only) "fly swiftly - emancipate me!"
"Respite, respite, detestable raven - and discharge me, I implore!"
A ghostly answer of: "nevermore".
" 'Tis a prophet? Wraith? Strange devil? Or the ultimate evil?"
"Answer, tempter-sent creature!", I inquired, like before.
"Forlorn, though firmly undaunted, with 'nevermores' quite indoctrinated,
Is everything depressing, generating great sorrow evermore?
I am subdued!", I then swore.
In answer, the raven turned - relentless distress it spurned.
"Comfort, surcease, quiet, silence!" - pleaded I for.
"Will my (abusive raven!) sorrows persist unabated?
Nevermore Lenore respondeth?", adamantly I encored.
The appeal was ignored.
"O, satanic inferno's denizen -- go!", I said boldly, standing then.
"Take henceforth loathsome "nevermores" - O, to an ugly Plutonian shore!
Let nary one expression, O bird, remain still here, replacing mirth.
Promptly leave and retreat!", I resolutely swore.
Blackbird's riposte: "nevermore".
So he sitteth, observing always, perching ominously on these doorways.
Squatting on the stony bust so untroubled, O therefore.
Suffering stark raven's conversings, so I am condemned, subserving,
To a nightmare cursed, containing miseries galore.
Thus henceforth, I'll rise (from a darkness, a grave) -- nevermore!
-- Original: E. Poe
-- Redone by measuring circles.
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