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A Lemma by Constance Reid

Constance Reid (1918-2010), died on October 14. Sister of a mathematician (Julia Robinson), Reid wrote first about life in World War II factories that supported the war effort and then, later, several biographies (including one of her sister) and other books about mathematics. Kenneth Rexroth's poem "A Lemma by Constance Reid" (offered below) is based on material appearing in Reid's popular book *From Zero to Infinity: What Makes Numbers Interesting* (Thomas Y Crowell, 1955). Reid is known for the enthusiasm and clarity with which she presented mathematical ideas--seeking to attract and to satisfy non-mathematical readers.
** A Lemma by Constance Reid** by Kenneth Rexroth
There is a square for every
Natural number. If we
Divde the squares into even
And odd, we find that we can
Place the natural numbers
And the two sets of even
And odd squares in one to one
Correspondence.
We will never
Run out of squares. But neither
Will we run out of even
Or odd squares. Rest assured, though
Squares are inexhaustible, and
Problems concerning squares are
Also inexhaustible,
So are natural numbers.
I am sorry to read that CR has just died. In fact, recently, I had wondered if she would be still alive.

ReplyDeleteA few years ago we exchanged a few messages and the interview books where she appeared or that she co-authored inspired me enormously!

A Great Lady!Someone whose biographies, Hilbert & Courant, Julia, Neyman- A portrait from life,... will become classics if it is the case they are not that already.