A lot of math grad school is reading books and papers and trying to understand what’s going on. The difficulty is that reading math is not like reading a mystery thriller, and it’s not even like reading a history book or a New York Times article.

The main issue is that, by the time you get to the frontiers of math, the words to describe the concepts don’t really exist yet. Communicating these ideas is a bit like trying to explain a vacuum cleaner to someone who has never seen one, except you’re only allowed to use words that are four letters long or shorter. —Mathematics: What do grad students in math do all day?