Mathematical consultant

[Hamming] was employed essentially as a kind of internal mathematical consultant; he spent his days helping other people with their problems, often problems of a practical and mundane nature. Rather than begrudging this work, he saw it as the “interaction with harsh reality” necessary to keep his head out of the clouds, and at best, the continuous production of “micro-Nobel Prizes.” And most critically, all of his “great” work, his many celebrated inventions, grew directly out of these problems he was solving for other people.

Bret Victor, in the foreword to Richard Hamming’s The Art of Doing Science And Engineering: Learning to Learn