Time Magazine: Man of the Millennium

Paul Hsieh qed at pobox.com
Mon Sep 28 05:45:57 EST 1998

burley at tweedledumb.cygnus.com says...
> qed at pobox.com (Paul Hsieh) writes:
> > Andrew Wiles spent 7 years in virtual solitude working by himself to 
> > prove Fermat's last theorem after hundreds, if not thousands of 
> > mathematicians before him tried and failed.  When I think about all the 
> > other achievments of man, I can't think of one that compares in total 
> > depth and intensity.  I think that this proof is the ultimate 
> > intellectual trophy of man kind.
> Hey, the guy set out to find something, and found something *else*.
> Plus, he had the help of various good friends, wisely picked at
> just the right point in the process, and well-managed.
> Just kidding, sorta, I think his effort was really incredible (having
> just watched the documentary, a TV being about as close as I've gotten
> to "real math" in 20 years or so), but the proof hasn't exactly
> *influenced* much, yet.

Are you kidding me?  Pick up a modular form, and all of a sudden you have 
an elliptic curve!  You don't call that influencial?  :o)
> But, to pick someone who has undertaken a similar effort, that
> started out solo, long-considered impossible, and has turned into
> a vast effort by picking the right "friends" and managing the
> project successfully, to the point where the "impossible" has been
> achieved and is now having an impact beyond all predictions, how
> about:
>   Linus Torvalds

Good choice.  I'd rank him pretty high.  Unfortunately, we still have to 
sit back and see exactly what the fruits of his labor will bring.  I'm 
afraid we'll have wait 'till the next millenium before we can pronounce 
judgement. (For example, suppose IBM get off its ass and publishes the 
source to OS/2 and beefs up its Windows compatibility, and people adopt 
it ... it could spell good night for Linux.  Not likely, yes I know; but 
all I am saying, is that we need to see this play out before we pronounce 
judgement.  The OS wars are far from over.)
> At least from a comp.arch point of view, he's probably done more for
> the viability of "whatever architecture you want to create and
> whatever machine you want to build, as long as it's cost-effective"
> as anybody.

Uhh ... yeah, but people with twisted points of view might decide that 
Bill Gates and/or Andy Grove fall in the same category.
> (Of course, Richard Stallman might deserve to be mentioned as well.)

Well, IMHO, Stallman has already played out his hand, and while its a 
good hand, its not quite earth shattering.
> But, I agree, Wiles' effort was really something.  I hope someday
> somebody finds something that can be fairly deemed to be Fermat's
> actual *proof*...
> ...or at least "Fermat's Last, Really Really Tiny, Pen".  :)

Hahahaha!  :o)

Paul Hsieh
qed at pobox.com

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