With some delay caused by problems with my fingers, I finally and proudly present this book, published this year. It contains a proof of a single theorem. It is the result of a research programme I was working on for 26 years (and started writing up first texts 25 years ago, in 1983). I would have never finished the project or even properly formulated the programme on my own; some absolutely crucial input was needed from my experienced colleagues and from three generations of our PhD students who grew up to become our experienced colleagues.
It is worth mentioning that my work on the gradual, step-by-step development of the programme was running in parallel with bringing up my family, and on the same timescale. My son turned 25 this year.
When work becomes identical with life, it stops being a cause for self-engrandisement. I bet quite a number of mathematicians live similar lives. Moreover, I know this for certain, say, from my experiences of sitting on the LMS Programme Committee. Many mathematicians do not receive funding from standard funding bodies such as EPSRC in Britain simply because their projects are too big in timescale for bureaucrats’ compartmentalised thinking. (Incidentally, my project never had a single penny of funding from EPSRC.)
LMS (the London Mathematical Society) has a different philosophy: it funds people, not projects. The LMS grants are tiny in comparison with EPSRC, but if the outcome is measured in theorems per pound, the LMS grants are likely to be an order of magnitude more cost-effective than ones from EPSRC.
I believe it is important for us in our mathematical community to remember that our work is measured not in man-months and not even in man-years (or, using management speak, CMEs, Contract Man-Year Equivalents), but in man-lives.