In a recent sermon, Rabbi Shaul Robinson of the Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York City referred to an amazing incident in the life of Dr. George Dantzig (1914-2005), one of the greatest American mathematicians of the 20th century. In 1939, when Dantzig was a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, he arrived late to class one day. The professor had written several problems in statistics on the blackboard.
Dantzig assumed that these problems were a homework assignment. He copied them into his notebook and then worked on them over the next few days. When he turned them in, he mentioned to his professor that the problems were a bit more difficult than usual and he apologized for handing in the assignment late.