(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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    $\begingroup$ It was Henry Whitehead, and he said slums not scum. See e.g. the first sentence in arxiv.org/pdf/1111.4050.pdf. $\endgroup$ Mar 10, 2014 at 0:17
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    $\begingroup$ I just want to mention that I am sure the OP is not in any way trying to disparage graph theory, since (his or) her web page indicates (he or) she has done research in graph theory. No doubt the question is meant only to track down an elusive memory that was nagging at (him or) her. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble
    Mar 10, 2014 at 2:26
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    $\begingroup$ When I was working on my dissertation, I heard that "Cyclotomy is the bargain basement of Algebraic Number Theory." $\endgroup$ Mar 10, 2014 at 4:32
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    $\begingroup$ This is a straightforward reference request with an accepted answer. I vote to reopen. $\endgroup$ Mar 10, 2014 at 16:02
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    $\begingroup$ This question has a metathread meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/1543/… $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Mar 10, 2014 at 17:07

1 Answer 1


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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