I think the days when the “Feynman method” was all that was needed to make progress on basic problems in Discrete Geometry are over. Recently there have been a slew of results which make progress on long-standing open problems in Discrete and Computational Geometry that use techniques from a variety of areas in mathematics: algebraic geometry, algebraic topology, complex analysis and so on.
This is wonderful news for the field. Though, two things to consider:
1. So far, apart from the kind of work going in “Computational Topology“, this has mostly been a one-way street. There have been fewer cases of discrete and computational geometers going into topology, algebraic geometry etc. and making a similar impact there. Similarly, there are very few collaborations between mathematicians in other areas, and discrete geometers (ed: Mulmuley also argues that the GCT program will only come to fruition when this reverse direction starts happening)
2. From my experience, current graduate students, by-and-large, still seem to be stuck with the general outlook that “If I’m clever enough, and think hard enough, I can solve any problem directly”. Such optimism alwayscheers me up. I used to think that too, but the more I learn about other areas, and as the recent work reveals power of techniques, it has become clear to me that it is misguided to think that. I would really advise students to take courses in algebraic topology, differential geometry and so on.
From: The Geomblog