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The Poetry in Calculus


There is a harsh beauty in mathematics.

Under curves and over slopes,

Equations rise and fall endlessly

In a perfectly measured void.

Optimized, rationalized, sterilized;

Formulas that never lie,

Theorems looming before us

Like an archaic God,

A golden deity whose

Volume is maximized.

How I dream of drifting in this flux,

Concave up and concave down,

Riding the sign of my second derivative

For positive and negative,

For better and worse.

I would not travel alone;

With C by my side,

Friend, ally, brother,

Always paired with my antiderivative,

For whenever we journey back

Into the past, it is necessary

To have a companion to pull us out again

In case we are unsure of where we started.

Rules and laws

Strict organization, control;

There is a harsh beauty in mathematics.

Order; two plus two is always four.

Sines and cosines and theta

All dancing in the unit circle of life,

A conga line that joins itself

To form a mathematical ouroboros.

But the harshest of the harsh beauties

Presented in this Divine Subject

Is that though there is an infinite capacity

For positivity and growth,

So too is there the possibility of stretching

Endlessly towards negativity forever.

However, it is much more terrifying

To lie in the middle;

To be undefined, unknowable, and to add

Or subtract to no effect;

The most fear inducing, mysterious, and gorgeous number

Of zero; nothing yet something,

Infinite yet not,

The most grand of all contradictions.

A hole; a jump; a discontinuity,

Easily removed from life and smoothed out

If you just apply the formulas.

Graphs and coordinates, integers and ordered pairs,

Is that not what life is?

We live within the grandest equation,

Each our own variable,

Constantly solving for ourselves

With the harsh beauties of mathematics.

      A poem by Joshua Brown

Note by Llewellyn Sterling
2 years, 1 month ago

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There are some nice phrases here, ("perfectly measured void"), and some funny ones too, ("a conga line ...... mathematical ouroboros").

"For positive and negative, for better and worse ...." made me wonder about how the wedding vows between two mathematicians would go. "We are grouped here today to unite these two whole functions into a bond of holy unity .........." etc, etc.. :) Brian Charlesworth · 2 years, 1 month ago

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@Brian Charlesworth LOL!!! Gautam Sharma · 1 year, 11 months ago

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Assome 😂😂😂 Gauri shankar Mishra · 8 months, 1 week ago

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woo ,what a lovely description Pulkit Singh · 2 years, 1 month ago

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Wow !!! Soutrik Bandyopadhyay · 2 years, 1 month ago

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