Mathematical Writing

Mathematical Writing

CHAPTER 3:  An Answer
VERSE 16:      The proof above actually commits another sin against mathematical exposition, namely the unnecessary use of proof by contradiction.

In his later years Knuth was increasingly concerned with morality.  His thinking along these lines was eventually reflected in his mathematical writing, as in the quotation above.  But his concern with sin and punishment was apparent even as early as The TeXbook, where he imposes a wide variety of \penalties for poor typesetting---the worst sin of all, in his view.

There is evidence that ultimately Knuth even attempted to give a rigorous mathematical treatment to these matters.  His efforts along these lines, if any, have been lost, but vague references have been uncovered to a book entitled Axioms of Hell or something similar, which would seem to support the possibility.

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