McKean, Henry P.

Professor Henry P. McKean

Henry P. McKean

Professor of Mathematics

Silver Dialogues Essay

The field of mathematics is very wide and it is not easy to predict what happens next, but I can tell you it is alive and well.Two general trends are obvious and will surely persist. In its pure aspect, the subject has changed, much for the better I think, by moving to more concrete problems. In both its pure and applied aspects, an equally beneficial shift to non-linear problems can be seen. Most mathematical questions suggested by Nature are genuinely non-linear,meaning very roughly that the result is not proportional to the cause, but varies with it as the square or the cube,or in some more complicated way. The study of such questions is still, after two or three hundred years, in its infancy. Only a few of the simplest examples are understood in any really satisfactory way. I believe this direction will be a principal theme in the future. To make concrete these vague remarks would require examples described in some detail, hard to do in a little space, so I have chosen a more historical route. Read More...