# A kind of "Zettelkasten" for mathematics

Not strictly a Zettelkasten, but almost. I was ready "How to write mathematics" by P. R. Halmos. and on page 134, he discusses how he organizes a book or long article:

At one stage of writing a 300-page book I had 1000 sheets of paper, each with a mathematical statement on it, a theorem, a lemma, or even a minor comment, complete with proof. The

sheets were numbered, any which way. My job was toindicate on each sheet the numbers of the sheets whose statement must logically come before, and then to arrange the sheets in linear order so that no sheet comes after one on which it's mentioned.

Emphasis mine.

It is of course not quite a Zettelkasten, since the numbers are only used to describe predecessors, but I think it is still interesting to look at these examples of almost-Zettelkasten. I think it gives credibility to the Zettelkasten technique that it is not really something entirely *new*, but that the elements can be recognized elsewhere.

#### Howdy, Stranger!

## Comments

The study of some of the early predecessors to the zettelkasten method does reveal insight. Like your example, mathematicians have been dancing around the ZM without ever putting it all together for some time. In this example, similar tools for thought, to those that help link ideas/zettel together, are described by Poincaré.

Is this a description of how notes relate to each other in a zettelkasten? A zettelkasten, this is not but it describes a tool that can be appropreated for use.

The Monist, Volume 20.

Mathematical Creationby Henri Poincaré (written in 1908) https://archive.org/details/jstor-27900262Will Simpson

I must keep doing my best even though I'm a failure. My peak cognition is behind me. One day soon I will read my last book, write my last note, eat my last meal, and kiss my sweetie for the last time.

kestrelcreek.com

Here is an older example of a zettelkasten: https://blog.sub.uni-hamburg.de/?p=8736 (the material is in German).

The author Joachim Jungius (1587-1657) is not well known, but he was held in very high esteem by Leibniz. (I take my information from the Wikipedia.)

I first heard about Jungius in the "Taking Note"blog written by Manfred Kuehn. The blog was a treasure trove of facts about zettelkästen, note taking, writing habits, software etc. It does no longer exist, which to me is a real loss.

What I find puzzling: With pioneers such as Jungius, and later proponents like Luhmann, why did zettelkasten practices not become much more prominent and widespread?

the Zettelkasten didn't make it into my education system and public internet access started in the early 90s. IMO, It's only a matter of time when a popularity is going to discuss his/her Zettelkasten with us on Zettelkasten.de

my first Zettel uid: 202008120915