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The Calculus of Friendship by Steven Strogatz

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The Path of Quickest Descent (2000-2003)

Joff’s opening words when he resumed our correspondence were “Withdrawal from math teaching hasn’t been easy.”

Over the next several years he inundated me with letters, one after another without waiting for a reply. He’d devise his own math problems and show me his solutions, just like I had when I was his student. He’d write about nature and his vacation trips and tell me about his new friends, people I’d never met or heard of.

Mostly I was silent and didn’t write back, too busy now with our first daughter. Then another. Never enough sleep. Helping Carole. Writing a book. Chores at school. I couldn’t keep ...

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