Always try the problem that matters most to you.

I had this rare privilege of being able to pursue in my adult life, what had been my childhood dream.

Perhaps I could best describe my experience of doing mathematics in terms of entering a dark mansion. You go into the first room and it's dark, completely dark. You stumble around, bumping into the furniture. Gradually, you learn where each piece of furniture is. And finally, after six months or so, you find the light switch and turn it on. Suddenly, it's all illuminated and you can see exactly where you were. Then you enter the next dark room.

Mathematicians aren't satisfied because they know there are no solutions up to four million or four billion, they really want to know that there are no solutions up to infinity.

Pure mathematicians just love to try unsolved problems - they love a challenge.

However impenetrable it seems, if you don't try it, then you can never do it.

The definition of a good mathematical problem is the mathematics it generates rather than the problem itself.

Just because we can't find a solution it doesn't mean that there isn't one.

The greatest problem for mathematicians now is probably the Riemann Hypothesis.

I never use a computer.

Mathematics... is a bit like discovering oil. ... But mathematics has one great advantage over oil, in that no one has yet ... found a way that you can keep using the same oil forever.

I know it's a rare privilege, but if one can really tackle something in adult life that means that much to you, then it's more rewarding than anything I can imagine.

Fermat said he had a proof.

I carried this problem around in my head basically the whole time. I would wake up with it first thing in the morning, I would be thinking about it all day, and I would be thinking about it when I went to sleep. Without distraction I would have the same thing going round and round in my mind.

Some mathematics problems look simple, and you try them for a year or so, and then you try them for a hundred years, and it turns out that they're extremely hard to solve. There's no reason why these problems shouldn't be easy, and yet they turn out to be extremely intricate. Fermat's Last Theorem is the most beautiful example of this.

It's fine to work on any problem, so long as it generates interesting mathematics along the way - even if you don't solve it at the end of the day.

I was so obsessed by this problem that I was thinking about it all the time - when I woke up in the morning, when I went to sleep at night - and that went on for eight years.

Then when I reached college, I realized that many people had thought about the problem during the 18th and 19th centuries and so I studied those methods.

We've lost something that's been with us for so long, and something that drew a lot of us into mathematics. But perhaps that's always the way with math problems, and we just have to find new ones to capture our attention.

I really believed that I was on the right track, but that did not mean that I would necessarily reach my goal

There are proofs that date back to the Greeks that are still valid today.

But the best problem I ever found, I found in my local public library.

That particular odyssey is now over. My mind is now at rest.

I tried to fit it in with some previous broad conceptual understanding of some part of mathematics that would clarify the particular problem I was thinking about.

I loved doing problems in school.

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