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(Edited in accordance with suggestions in comments.)

I remember once I read a quote that sounded like "graph theory is the scum of topology" (please approximate). I can not find it on the web, and I can not remember who said this. Or did I dream it after a heavy meal?

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It was Henry Whitehead, and he said slums not scum. See e.g. the first sentence in arxiv.org/pdf/1111.4050.pdf. –  Sam Hopkins Mar 10 at 0:17
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When I was working on my dissertation, I heard that "Cyclotomy is the bargain basement of Algebraic Number Theory." –  Gerry Myerson Mar 10 at 4:32
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User "Conder" attempted the following edit: Due to restrictions I cannot comment, and the question has been made unanswerable by voteing, so my sole choice is editing. The book Chromatic Graph Theory, says, page 19 quotes John Henry Constantine Whitehead (1904-1960), one of the founders of homotopy theory, reportedly said that "Combinatorics is the slums of topology". It then juxtaposes a quote from Gelfand. Given the already large number of remembrances of whatever Whitehead said, my guess is that there is no actual citation. –  S. Carnahan Mar 10 at 5:53
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This is a straightforward reference request with an accepted answer. I vote to reopen. –  Tom LaGatta Mar 10 at 16:02
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This question has a metathread meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/1543/… –  quid Mar 10 at 17:07
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1 Answer 1

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Graph theory is the slum of topology...

You may have read it in the first paragraph of the very first opinion of Prof. Zeilberger:

Topology: The slum of combinatorics OR "Don't show off too much, your specialty will soon be trivialized"

He attributes it therein to a certain Whitehead too (but it is not clear from his text to which Whitehead he is referring).

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