FOM: clarification

Lou van den Dries vddries at
Wed Dec 31 18:53:15 EST 1997

This is my second brief response to Harvey's message of 12/31/97.
Harvey quotes me as saying

>Agreed, the basic ideas of this last line 
(I was discussing the FOM line) 
>are of fairly general *mathematical* interest,
>and easy to grasp (since one starts from scratch).

and then responds with

"The word "fairly" is a gratuitous insult to FOM. "

Probably my sense of the meaning of "fairly" in this context is incorrect, 
I meant no insult, gratuitous or otherwise. Maybe "rather" is better?
Or just leave out "fairly". 

Harvey also writes:

" I have heard reports that the very best graduate students at the very
best Departments are demonstrably in logic in disproportionate numbers.
Maybe some of the fom subscribers can confirm this." 

I'd also like to hear more on this.

Later he says:

"By the way, how do you claim that the *origin* of P=NP is partly from
number theory? Just asking; not confrontationally. I see  possible
*origins* in graph theory more than in number theory. Are you thinking of
factoring integers?
In any case, we can ask Steve Cook to tell us about the origins of P=NP."

If I am not mistaken, classical algorithms like Euclid's for gcd,
and the basic facts of decimal representation have attracted from
quite a while back some attention as to number of steps
required, etc. Anyway, number theory has always been full of
algorithms. It seems plausible to me that the experience gained in such
matters had a distinct influence in the rise of complexity theory, and the
interest in problems like P=NP. But I'd be interested in hearing
what Steve Cook would have to say about this.

-Lou van den Dries-

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