Mathematical Quotations

For anyone looking for that perfect mathematical quote … enjoy!

MATHEMATICAL QUOTATION SERVER – From Furman University, this server contains about 83 printable pages of mathematical quotes.  It is unbelievable!

QUOTATIONS – This website lists about 100 mathematical quotes.  Some are serious while others humorous.  Take a look and enjoy.

My personal favorites:

  • “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.” – John Adams
  • “‘Obvious’ is the most dangerous word in mathematics.”  – Eric Temple Bell
  • “A mathematician’s reputation rests on the number of bad proofs he has given.” – A.S. Besicovitch
  • “From nothing I have created another entirely new world.” – Janos Bolyai
  • “I am now convinced that theoretical physics is actual philosophy.” – Max Born
  • “A peculiarity of the higher arithmetic is the great difficulty which has often been experienced in proving simple general theorems which had been suggested quite naturally by numerical evidence.” – Harold Davenport
  • “I believe there are 15, 747, 724, 136, 275, 002, 577, 605, 653, 961, 181, 555, 468, 044, 717, 914, 527, 116, 709, 366, 231, 425, 076, 185, 631, 031, 296 protons in the universe and the same number of electrons.” – Arthur Eddington
  • “Algebra exists only for the elucidation of geometry.” – William Edge
  • “Success is the result of hard work.” – Thomas Edison
  • “How is it possible that mathematics, a product of human thought that is independent of experience, fits so excellently the objects of physical reality?” – Albert Einstein
  • “A problem worthy of attack proves its worth by fighting back.” – Paul Erdos
  • “The purpose of life is to conjecture and prove.” – Paul Erdos
  • “It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment.” – Gauss
  • “To parents who despair because their children are unable to master the first problems in arithmetic I can dedicate my examples. For, in arithmetic, until the seventh grade I was last or nearly last.” – Jacques Hadamard
  • “Don’t just read it; fight it! Ask your own questions, look for your own examples, discover your own proofs. Is the hypothesis necessary? Is the converse true?  Where does the proof use the hypothesis?” – Paul Halmos
  • “It saddens me that educated people don’t even know that my subject exists.” – Paul Halmos
  • “Mathematics is not a deductive science, that’s a cliché … What you do is trial and error, experimentation, guesswork.” – Paul Halmos
  • “The heart of mathematics is its problems.” – Paul Halmos
  • ” A mathematician, like a painter or poet, is a maker of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made with ideas.” – G. H. Hardy
  • “If I could prove by logic that you would die in five minutes, I should be sorry you were going to die, but my sorrow would be very much mitigated by pleasure in the proof.” – G.H. Hardy  (As told to Bertrand Russell)
  • “In great mathematics there is a very high degree of unexpectedness, combined with inevitability and economy.” – G.H. Hardy
  • “Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human.  At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house.” – Robert Heinlein
  • “An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them.” – Werner Heisenberg
  • “The student is best taught who is told the least” – R. L. Moore
  • “Gentlemen, that is surely true, it is absolutely paradoxical; we cannot understand it, and we don’t know what it means.  But we have proven it, and therefore we know it is the truth” – Benjamin Peirce  (Stated in a lecture after proving Euler’s Formula.)
  • “Life is good for only two things, discovering mathematics and teaching mathematics” – Siméon Poisson
  • “If there is a problem you can’t solve, then there is an easier problem you can’t solve: find it.” – George Pólya
  • “A mathematician is a device which turns coffee into theorems.” – Alfréd Rényi
  • “Physics is mathematical not because we know so much about the physical world, but because we know so little; it is only its mathematical properties that we can discover.” – Bertrand Russell
  • “It is not the job of mathematicians… to do correct arithmetical operations.  It is the job of bank accountants.” – Samuil Shatunovsky
  • “It is true that a mathematician who is not also something of a poet will never be a perfect mathematician.” – Karl Weierstrass
  • “Logic is the hygiene the mathematician practices to keep his ideas healthy and strong.” – Hermann Weyl
  • “One may say that mathematics talks about the things which are of no concern to men. Mathematics has the inhuman quality of starlight – brilliant, sharp but cold … thus we are clearest where knowledge matters least:  in mathematics, especially number theory.” – Hermann Weyl
  • “Mathematics was born and nurtured in a cultural environment. Without the perspective which the cultural background affords, a proper appreciation of the content and state of present-day mathematics is hardly possible.” – R.L. Wilder
  • “Black holes result from God dividing the universe by zero.” – Steven Wright
  • “It is clear that the chief end of mathematical study must be to make the students think.” – John Wesley Young

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