“We hate having rules imposed on us”

Eugenia Cheng combines home baking with higher-dimensional category theory. She talks about pudding, infinity, and why geeks are the new alphas.

What is higher-dimensional category theory? Can you describe it in a sentence?
It is the mathematics of mathematics. It does for mathematics the same thing that mathematics does for the world – it makes connections between things and it highlights patterns between things, so that we can be more efficient about how we use our brain power.

You’ve declared your vision is to ‘rid the world of mathematics phobia’. How do you erode it once it has taken hold?
Unfortunately, the kind of maths we teach in school is often not in any way useful for most people’s lives – people say “When am I ever going to need to solve a quadratic equation in my life?” The kind of maths I teach is about logical thinking, thinking your way through situations, understanding what is causing something to happen and working out how things fit together.

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