From Erica Klarreich at Quanta:

In January, Ziegler traveled to San Diego for the Joint Mathematics Meetings, where he received (on his and Aigner’s behalf) the 2018 Steele Prize for Mathematical Exposition. “The density of elegant ideas per page [in the book] is extraordinarily high,” the prize citation reads.

The 2014 book is Proofs from the Book (that is, a book of God’s alleged proofs, the most beautiful ones). Here’s the interview with Günter Ziegler (his co-author of Martin Aigner) at *Quanta,* with a sort of assist from Paul Erdős (1913-1996)

Quanta:You’ve said that you and Martin Aigner have a similar sense of which proofs are worthy of inclusion in THE BOOK. What goes into your aesthetic?

Ziegler:We’ve always shied away from trying to define what is a perfect proof. And I think that’s not only shyness, but actually, there is no definition and no uniform criterion. Of course, there are all these components of a beautiful proof. It can’t be too long; it has to be clear; there has to be a special idea; it might connect things that usually one wouldn’t think of as having any connection.

For some theorems, there are different perfect proofs for different types of readers. I mean, what is a proof? A proof, in the end, is something that convinces the reader of things being true. And whether the proof is understandable and beautiful depends not only on the proof but also on the reader: What do you know? What do you like? What do you find obvious?More.

This all seems so modern instead of post-modern (po-mo). The assumption is that there is a rational series of steps in thought that should convince any reasonable person but to the po-mo, that is just imperialism.

Has the time for books like this passed? Will it decline to a much smaller share of the previous academic market?

*See also:* New Scientist coins a new term: Uglyverse Of course, a universe in which we have not found a multiverse must be ugly to New Scientist readers. For others, beauty remains a possibility, best explained by apparent fine-tuning of our universe, which has always been the real problem for them.