Saturday, May 24, 2008

Principle Ideals

Once upon a time (in a nursery rhyme), I asked readers for the definition of the compliment of an open set. However today I will do no such thing about "Principle Ideals".

From school (and recently when I met my English teacher) I remember being told: the principal is your pal. Hence, whenever I used that word I made sure never to write principal, for we tend to say head teacher anyway.

During the algebra course this semester, we were told about these evil things called ideals. The word "principal" was always written on the board to describe the principal ideal, but I always wrote "principle ideal" on my paper. Namely, because I thought the lecturer had made an error, and because of the fact that the ideal was not my "pal". I had intended to ask Prof. P about this but never got round to it (thankfully one could say, but I will probably tell him about my stupidity anyway!)

Today, whilst faffing about of course, I came across the following heart breaking, demoralising paragraph:

"A principle is an underlying idea, or a moral belief, etc. A principal is either a Head (e.g. a sort of Head-teacher); or an adjective describing the most important thing, “The principal point in this lecture is…”"

That is a lot of egg on my face I must say! I won't be going through my notes and writing principal, but it is a lesson learnt for the future. (I do found this rather funny though!)

As I lick my wounds, I will leave you with a possibly pleasant quote by the French writer Buffon:

"Le style est l’homme même: style is the man himself."

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