Martin Gardner, who turns 95 today, was a huge influence on me.
I devoured his books and Scientific American “Mathematical Games” columns in junior high, high school, and even well into college.
There’s a nice profile of Martin Gardner by John Tierny in today’s New York Times. (Already cited in four places by the Wikipedia article linked above.)
Being now into my forties and trying to figure out what to do with my life, I’m fascinated by the fact that Gardner started at age 42 with no background in math other than a love of puzzles!
I’m not surprised a journalist would call “recreational mathematics” an oxymoron.
We already knew Gardner liked the A-HA style of puzzle — his books were full of them, requiring no real math knowledge to understand. I wonder what he’d have done if he grew up on programming puzzles rather than mathematical ones? We’d probably have more interesting, but equally ridiculous, programmer interview quizzes.