PREFACE
xiii
apply t o you r ow n writing . Th e result , I hope, wil l b e tha t yo u wil l b e
a mor e effective write r an d wil l derive more enjoyment fro m th e writin g
process.
As a scholar , o r a scientist , yo u d o no t mak e widgets , no r d o yo u
grow wheat , no r d o yo u perfor m brai n surgery . I n fac t wha t yo u d o
is manipulat e idea s an d repor t o n th e results . Usuall y thi s repor t i s
in writte n form . Wha t yo u writ e i s ofte n important , an d ca n hav e
real impact . Freshma n compositio n teacher s a t Pen n Stat e lik e t o tel l
their student s o f th e engineer s a t Thre e Mil e Island , wh o wrot e t o th e
governor o f Pennsylvania thre e times to tell him tha t a nuclea r disaste r
was i n th e makin g a t thei r powe r plant . Thei r pros e wa s s o garble d
that th e poo r governo r coul d no t determin e what i n th e worl d the y
were talkin g about . Th e res t i s history .
The ver y ac t o f writin g has , i n th e las t twent y years , take n o n a
new shape an d form . Whereas , year s ago, it entaile d sharpenin g a quil l
and buyin g a bottl e o f ink , nowaday s mos t o f u s d o no t eve n ow n a
quill knife . Instea d w e boo t u p th e compute r an d creat e a documen t
in som e versio n o f T^JX . Thi s bein g th e case , I hav e decide d t o devot e
a (large ) portio n o f thi s boo k t o techniques o f effectiv e writin g an d
another (muc h smaller ) portio n t o th e instruments o f moder n writ -
ing. Thi s boo k i s intended i n larg e par t fo r th e novic e mathematician .
Fresh fro m graduat e school , such a perso n mus t engag e i n th e struggl e
of figuring ou t ho w t o surviv e i n th e profession . Th e luck y buddin g
mathematician wil l hav e gon e t o a graduat e progra m tha t provide d
experience i n technica l writin g an d th e us e o f hardwar e an d software .
If not , the n perhap s th e perso n i s presentl y i n a workin g environmen t
that make s it eas y to learn the technical aspect s of writing. Bu t I thin k
that i t i s usefu l t o hav e a referenc e fo r thes e matters . I intend , wit h
this book , t o provid e one .
My credentials for writing this book are simple: I have written abou t
one hundre d article s an d hav e writte n o r edited abou t fifteen books . I
have receive d a certai n amoun t o f prais e fo r m y work , an d eve n a fe w
prizes; an d I hav e receive d plent y o f criticism . Le t m e assur e yo u tha t
one o f th e mos t importan t attribute s o f a goo d write r i s a n abilit y t o
listen t o criticis m an d t o lear n fro m it . Anyon e finds i t difficul t t o rea d
criticism withou t becomin g defensive ; nobod y want s t o b e excoriated .
But eve n th e mos t negative , uncharitabl e revie w ca n contai n usefu l
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