I have a 'soft' question as follows:

'How did you first become interested in becoming a mathematician?'

The sort of answers I'm seeking are factual rather than subjective, e.g.

I first became interested in mathematics when I heard about Fermat's Last Theorem at the age of 11. At that moment I decided I would keep trying until I solved it.


I was the best in my class at arithmetic and I enjoyed finding new and quicker ways of performing calculations.

As this is my first question on MO, I don't want to start badly.


  1. Is the above question suitable for the site?

  2. If not, can it be improved to be so?

  3. If neither of the above, where is a good place to ask professional mathematicians what inspired them to take up their careers?

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ I'd say this question is rather not suitable for this site -- even more if someone asks it as their first question here. If you "don't want to start badly", I think the best advice is to start either with an interesting non-soft question or with giving a good answer to a question of someone else. $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Sep 12, 2015 at 12:37
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I'm not at all enthusiastic about the question either, but if you'd like some idea of what inspired various individuals to make a career of mathematics, I'd recommend the collections of interviews Mathematical People and More Mathematical People. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Sep 12, 2015 at 15:43
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I'm going to agree; while this might make a suitable sort of discussion for a different kind of forum, I don't think it is suitable for a site that is meant to be for discussing research-level mathematics. $\endgroup$ Sep 12, 2015 at 22:37
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the comments. You have convinced me. Additionally Todd Trimble has given me a lead that hopefully will make my intended question unnecessary. $\endgroup$ Sep 12, 2015 at 22:53
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I just learned of this, which seems to be a companion volume to the other books I mentioned: math.uiuc.edu/~tondeur/Albers-2011.pdf $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Sep 13, 2015 at 0:29


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