quotations about mathematics

Math quote

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

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Mysticism and Logic


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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


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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.



Tags: Sir Thomas Browne

Solving a problem for which you know there's an answer is like climbing a mountain with a guide, along a trail someone else has laid. In mathematics, the truth is somewhere out there in a place no one knows, beyond all the beaten paths. And it's not always at the top of the mountain. It might be in a crack on the smoothest cliff or somewhere deep in the valley.

YOKO OGAWA, The Housekeeper and the Professor


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.



Tags: Charles Caleb Colton

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, February 10, 2012


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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


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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


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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


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Wherever there is number, there is beauty.

PROCLUS, Commentary on Euclid


The really inspiring reflection suggested by the history of mathematics is the unity of thought and interest among men of so many epochs, so many nations, and so many races.

ALFRED NORTH WHITEHEAD, An Introduction to Mathematics


Mathematics he moderately studieth to his great contentment, using it as a ballast for his soul.

THOMAS FULLER, The Holy State and the Profane State


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Beauty is the first test; there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.

G. H. HARDY, A Mathematician's Apology


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


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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, April 3, 1902


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

ALBERT EINSTEIN, attributed, Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist


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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


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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, February 1, 2012


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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, March 1912


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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


Tags: Winston Churchill