“A mathematician, like a painter or poet, is a maker of patterns,” wrote the British mathematician G. H. Hardy. In Do Not Erase, photographer Jessica Wynne presents remarkable examples of this idea through images of mathematicians’ chalkboards. While other fields have replaced chalkboards with whiteboards and digital presentations, mathematicians remain loyal to chalk for puzzling out their ideas and communicating their research. Wynne offers more than one hundred stunning photographs of these chalkboards, gathered from a diverse group of mathematicians around the world. The photographs are accompanied by essays from each mathematician, reflecting on their work and processes. Together, pictures and words provide an illuminating meditation on the unique relationships among mathematics, art, and creativity.
The mathematicians featured in this collection comprise exciting new voices alongside established figures, including Sun-Yung Alice Chang, Alain Connes, Misha Gromov, Andre Neves, Kasso Okoudjou, Peter Shor, Christina Sormani, Terence Tao, Claire Voisin, and many others. The companion essays give insights into how the chalkboard serves as a special medium for mathematical expression. The volume also includes an introduction by the author, an afterword by New Yorker writer Alec Wilkinson, and biographical information for each contributor.
Do Not Erase is a testament to the myriad ways that mathematicians use their chalkboards to reveal the conceptual and visual beauty of their discipline—shapes, figures, formulas, and conjectures created through imagination, argument, and speculation.
Awards and Recognition
- Winner of the PROSE Award in Popular Science and Mathematics, Association of American Publishers