definitionis refined.

What I care most about are definitions. For one thing, humans describe mathematics through language, and, as always, we need sharp words in order to articulate our ideas clearly. (For example, for a long time, I had some idea of the concept of diamonds. But only when I came up with a good name could I really start to think about it, let alone communicate it to others.

Finding the name took several months (or even a year?). Then it took another two or three years to finally write down the correct definition (among many close variants). The essential difficulty in writing “Etale cohomology of diamonds” was (by far) not giving the proofs, but finding the definitions.

But even beyond mere language, we perceive mathematical nature through the lenses given by definitions, and it is critical that the definitions put the essential points into focus. Unfortunately, it is impossible to find the right definitions by pure thought; one needs to detect the correct problems where progress will require the isolation of a new key concept.

I believe that the best language for writing specifications is mathematics. Mathematics is extremely powerful because it has the most powerful abstraction mechanism ever invented — the definition.