David Bessis: “There is a terrible misunderstanding about mathematics”


MAINTENANCE – The former assistant professor at Yale explains, in a fascinating book, how our brain is naturally adept at manipulating mathematical abstractions.

David Bessis was an assistant professor at Yale and then a researcher at the CNRS in mathematics before founding the artificial intelligence company TinyClues. In a fascinating book, Mathematica (Seuil, 2022), the former student of the École Normale Supérieure on rue d’Ulm combines personal experience, concrete examples and writings by great mathematicians to show, in a convincing manner, that our perception of mathematics is very far from reality.

LE FIGARO. – Your book is based on an observation: we are apparently very unequal when it comes to mathematics. Too much. what do you mean?

David BESSIS. – Take a professional sprinter and any passerby on the street. Over a 100m, there will only be a few seconds difference between them. In mathematics, it is as if some were running in ten seconds and the others had still not crossed the finish line after three weeks. This huge difference between “good at math” and “math dummies” breeds…

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