David Harbater (professor of mathematics at Penn) said of that class:
"only 10 really knew what they were doing." Of that 10, 8 would go on to become future mathematics professors, 1 would go on to teach physics.Daniel Chess also makes an interesting point, about a "brilliant" proof that Stallman came up with his sophomore year:
"The other one," emphasizes Harbater, "was Richard Stallman."
"That's the thing about mathematics," says Chess. "You don't have to be a first-rank mathematician to recognize first-rate mathematical talent. I could tell I was up there, but I could also tell I wasn't at the first rank. If Richard had chosen to be a mathematician, he would have been a first-rank mathematician."It's interesting that someone would even say this. Nobody would say that you don't have to be a great chef to recognize great cooking, because it goes without saying.
I learned this from Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software by Sam Williams, which is available online for free.