The Mathematical Intelligencer

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 76–80 | Cite as

The Entertainer

  • Jim Henle
For Our Mathematical Pleasure Jim Henle, Editor

Raymond Smullyan—logician, magician, mathematician, puzzlist, and Taoist philosopher—passed away last year at the age of 97. In each of his vocations, he made serious contributions. But in his heart, and from his head to his toes, he was an entertainer.

In gatherings large and small, among friends and among strangers, Ray was “on.” If there was a piano, there would be music. If there was a deck of cards, there would be tricks. And if there was conversation, there would be stories, jokes, and paralyzing paradoxes.

Smullyan had important things to say about logic, about knowledge, about mathematics, and about the meaning of life. To bring his ideas to the public, he created libraries of fantasies, puzzles, and conundrums. It’s my belief that these were more than means to an end. They were really his greatest joy. The professor professed—so the entertainer could entertain.

Smullyan came to Smith College a number of times at my invitation, but I can’t claim I really knew him. I base my...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Burton HallSmith CollegeNorthamptonUSA

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