The Code of the Mathematical Ninja has been developed over many centuries1, and is considered by most serious mathematicians to be one of the Far East's greatest contributions to maths. Its very existence was - until now - a closely guarded secret, known only by the inner circle of mathematicians able to do integration by substitution in their heads.
Naturally, I run a great risk by making this creed public. I fully expect to be targeted by mathematical assassins who will creep into my bedroom at night and slit my throat with Occam's Razor. So, I hope you're grateful: if you follow the seven virtues of the Mathematical Ninja, you will go far in maths. When you do, please avenge my death.
The Mathematical Ninja makes every effort to get things right. Ninjas take care over their work and avoid sloppy mistakes. They lay out their calculations neatly because this makes it easier to check for mistakes.
The Mathematical Ninja is unafraid of making original mistakes. Ninjas accept new challenges with relish and consistently work to extend their knowledge into unfamiliar fields.
The Mathematical Ninja is unrelentingly encouraging. Ninjas remember what it was like to feel confused about a topic and treat the currently confused with compassion and kindness. They share their ideas freely and use their powers for good.
The Mathematical Ninja guesses only when calculation is inappropriate. Ninjas work carefully with the most appropriate tools, and ask intelligent questions when stuck.
The Mathematical Ninja freely admits any mistakes that may have been made. Ninjas do this with humility and with the intention that such errors will not occur again. Ninjas honour their commitments and say 'I don't know' only after exhausting all possibilities.
The Mathematical Ninja is generous with intellectual credit, and makes a point of acknowledging contributions by others. Ninjas also seek to understand rather than simply know the answer, and give problems their undivided attention.
The Mathematical Ninja refuses to accept that a problem is too difficult to solve. Ninjas try every tool at their disposal, including research and checking the details of the question, to reach a conclusion. They stand their ground graciously when they know they are right, and seek to learn more when they are not.
That's it. Don't tell anyone.