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quotations about mathematics

Mathematics quote

Mathematics possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty -- a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Mysticism and Logic

Although I was first drawn to math and science by the certainty they promised, today I find the unanswered questions and the unexpected connections at least as attractive.

LISA RANDALL, Warped Passages

All things began in order, so shall they end, and so shall they begin again; according to the ordainer of order and mystical mathematics of the city of heaven.


He that gives a portion of his time and talent to the investigation of mathematical truth, will come to all other questions with a decided advantage over his opponents.


A new study found that students who are taught abstinence end up with better math scores. Of course, if you join the math team, the abstinence takes care of itself.

JIMMY FALLON, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Feb. 10, 2012

Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes.

ROBERT A. HEINLEIN, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

It seems to me now that mathematics is capable of an artistic excellence as great as that of any music, perhaps greater; not because the pleasure it gives (although very pure) is comparable, either in intensity or in the number of people who feel it, to that of music, but because it gives in absolute perfection that combination, characteristic of great art, of godlike freedom, with the sense of inevitable destiny; because, in fact, it constructs an ideal world where everything is perfect and yet true.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, letter to Gilbert Murray, Apr. 3, 1902

Since the mathematicians have invaded the theory of relativity, I do not understand it myself anymore.

ALBERT EINSTEIN, attributed, Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist

Like music or art, mathematical equations can have a natural progression and logic that can evoke rare passions in a scientist. Although the lay public considers mathematical equations to be rather opaque, to a scientist an equation is very much like a movement in a larger symphony. Simplicity. Elegance. These are the qualities that have inspired some of the greatest artists to create their masterpieces, and they are precisely the same qualities that motivate scientists to search for the laws of nature. LIke a work of art or a haunting poem, equations have a beauty and rhythm all their own.

MICHIO KAKU, Hyperspace

Studies show American students are becoming less proficient in math. Experts say we should have seen this coming, but nobody could put 2 and 2 together.

JAY LENO, The Tonight Show, Feb. 1, 2012

I like mathematics because it is not human and has nothing particular to do with this planet or with the whole accidental universe – because, like Spinoza's God, it won't love us in return.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, letter to Lady Ottoline Morrell, Mar. 1912

I had a feeling once about Mathematics, that I saw it all—Depth beyond depth was revealed to me—the Byss and the Abyss. I saw, as one might see the transit of Venus—or even the Lord Mayor's Show, a quantity passing through infinity and changing its sign from plus to minus. I saw exactly how it happened and why the tergiversation was inevitable: and how the one step involved all the others. It was like politics. But it was after dinner and I let it go!

WINSTON CHURCHILL, My Early Life: A Roving Commission

I have deeply regretted that I did not proceed far enough at least to understand something of the great leading principles of mathematics, for men thus endowed seem to have an extra sense.

CHARLES DARWIN, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin

There are very few things which we know, which are not capable of being reduced to a Mathematical Reasoning; and when they cannot it's a sign our knowledge of them is very small and confused; and when a Mathematical Reasoning can be had it's as great a folly to make use of any other, as to grope for a thing in the dark, when you have a Candle standing by you.

JOHN ARBUTHNOT, "Of the Hazards of Game", A Supplement to the Miscellaneous Works of the Late Dr. Arbuthnot

Those who assert that the mathematical sciences say nothing of the beautiful or the good are in error. For these sciences say and prove a great deal about them; if they do not expressly mention them, but prove attributes which are their results or definitions, it is not true that they tell us nothing about them. The chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry and definiteness, which the mathematical sciences demonstrate in a special degree.

ARISTOTLE, Metaphysics

Now the denominator ... why don't they just call it the bottom number? The denominator ... that sounds like a Schwarzenegger movie doesn't it? [impersonating Arnold Schwarzenegger] I am the Denominator. I'll give your leg a compound fraction!

TIM ALLEN, Home Improvement

We find sects and parties in most branches of science; and disputes which are carried on from age to age, without being brought to an issue. Sophistry has been more effectually excluded from mathematics and natural philosophy than from other sciences. In mathematics it had no place from the beginning; mathematicians having had the wisdom to define accurately the terms they use, and to lay down, as axioms, the first principles on which their reasoning is grounded. Accordingly, we find no parties among mathematicians, and hardly any disputes.

THOMAS REID, Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man

Mathematical Knowledge adds a manly Vigour to the Mind, frees it from Prejudice, Credulity, and Superstition.

JOHN ARBUTHNOT, An Essay on the Usefulness of Mathematical Learning

It was mathematics, the non-empirical science par excellence, wherein the mind appears to play only with itself, that turned out to be the science of sciences, delivering the key to those laws of nature and the universe that are concealed by appearances.

HANNAH ARENDT, The Life of the Mind

I'm sorry to say that the subject I most disliked was mathematics. I have thought about it. I think the reason was that mathematics leaves no room for argument. If you made a mistake, that was all there was to it.

MALCOLM X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Mathematicians deal with large numbers sometimes, but never in their income.

ISAAC ASIMOV, Prelude to Foundation


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