What if J. Peterman wanted you to learn commutative algebra?

1983.

The crisp leaves as I waited for the Dinky. Atiyah-Macdonald light in my hand. That was the fall I became intoxicated with power as I shrank open sets to points and revealed the structure of the universe. By the holidays I’d acquired the whole set of moves. Cracking the nut of a Noetherian ring. Folding and unfolding integral extensions. Localizing to a point with a gimlet eye. Flipping from rings to spaces, spaces to rings, with the ease of Evert working the baseline.

Math 215A. Commutative Algebra. James Cameron. Not that James Cameron, but just as life-changing.

— Guest post

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2 responses to “What if J. Peterman wanted you to learn commutative algebra?

  1. Since I’m not familiar with the Seinfeld character or the company, my first reaction was to be reminded of this passage from The Secret History

    Everything, somehow, fit together; some sly and benevolent Providence was revealing itself by degrees and I felt myself trembling on the brink of a fabulous discovery, as though any morning it was all going to come together — my future, my past, the whole of my life — and I was going to sit up in bed like a thunderbolt and say oh! oh! oh!

    • Burt Totaro

      Obligatory: I knew J, Peterman before he was on Seinfeld…

      I like thinking about a version of The Secret History with a band of intense algebraists. It might be less homicidal.

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