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Yeah. It is easy to people with no university-level math background to think math is a deterministic, conscious effort to execute what are basically algorithms, like long division with pen and paper.

Whereas actually ”mathematical thinking”, like coming up with a proof, is an incredibly intuition-guided process, a parallel heuristic search in the solution space, a fundamentally creative endeavour. And as your intuition comes up with promising paths through the search space, you write them down, formalize them, probably discover some corner cases you have to handle, and either continue down that path or realize that it is a dead end and you have to backtrack.

At least to me, this process is incredibly similar to programming effort. You come up with subsolutions, formalize them, fix issues revealed by the formalization, carry on with the next subsolution or realize that approach can’t work after all, and come up with something else.




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