Quotes about mathematics

A collection of quotes on the topic of mathematics.

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John Napier photo

„Arrange all these results as described, and you will produce a Table, certainly the most excellent of all Mathematical tables, and prepared for the most important uses.“

—  John Napier Scottish mathematician 1550 - 1617

The Construction of the Wonderful Canon of Logarithms (1889)
Context: From the Radical table completed in this way, you will find with great exactness the logarithms of all sines between radius and the sine 45 degrees; from the arc of 45 degrees doubled, you will find the logarithm of half radius; having obtained all these, you will find the other logarithms. Arrange all these results as described, and you will produce a Table, certainly the most excellent of all Mathematical tables, and prepared for the most important uses.

Kurt Gödel photo

„Either mathematics is too big for the human mind, or the human mind is more than a machine.“

—  Kurt Gödel logician, mathematician, and philosopher of mathematics 1906 - 1978

As quoted in Topoi : The Categorial Analysis of Logic (1979) by Robert Goldblatt, p. 13

Nikola Tesla photo
Roger Bacon photo

„For the things of this world cannot be made known without a knowledge of mathematics.“

—  Roger Bacon, book Opus Majus

Cited in: Opus majus: A translation by Robert Belle Burke. Vol 1 (1962). p. 128
Opus Majus, c. 1267
Context: For the things of this world cannot be made known without a knowledge of mathematics. For this is an assured fact in regard to celestial things, since two important sciences of mathematics treat of them, namely theoretical astrology and practical astrology. The first … gives us definite information as to the number of the heavens and of the stars, whose size can be comprehended by means of instruments, and the shapes of all and their magnitudes and distances from the earth, and the thicknesses and number, and greatness and smallness, … It likewise treats of the size and shape of the habitable earth … All this information is secured by means of instruments suitable for these purposes, and by tables and by canons.. For everything works through innate forces shown by lines, angles and figures.

Roger Bacon photo
Paul Dirac photo

„One could perhaps describe the situation by saying that God is a mathematician of a very high order, and He used very advanced mathematics in constructing the universe.“

—  Paul Dirac theoretical physicist 1902 - 1984

The Evolution of the Physicist's Picture of Nature (1963)
Context: It seems to be one of the fundamental features of nature that fundamental physical laws are described in terms of a mathematical theory of great beauty and power, needing quite a high standard of mathematics for one to understand it. You may wonder: Why is nature constructed along these lines? One can only answer that our present knowledge seems to show that nature is so constructed. We simply have to accept it. One could perhaps describe the situation by saying that God is a mathematician of a very high order, and He used very advanced mathematics in constructing the universe. Our feeble attempts at mathematics enable us to understand a bit of the universe, and as we proceed to develop higher and higher mathematics we can hope to understand the universe better.

Carl Schmitt photo
Aryabhata photo
Alhazen photo
Galén photo

„For truly on countless occasions throughout my life I have had this experience; persons for a time talk pleasantly with me because of my work among the sick, in which they think me very well trained, but when they learn later on that I am also trained in mathematics, they avoid me for the most part and are no longer at all glad to be with me.“

—  Galén Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher 129 - 216

Galen. Margaret Tallmadge May (trans.) On the Usefulness of the Parts of the Body, Ithaca, New York: Cornell U. Press, 1968. p. 502.
Context: A god, as I have said, commanded me to tell the first use also, and he himself knows that I have shrunk from its obscurity. He knows too that not only here but also in many other places in these commentaries, if it depended on me, I would omit demonstrations requiring astronomy, geometry, music, or any other logical discipline, lest my books should be held in utter detestation by physicians. For truly on countless occasions throughout my life I have had this experience; persons for a time talk pleasantly with me because of my work among the sick, in which they think me very well trained, but when they learn later on that I am also trained in mathematics, they avoid me for the most part and are no longer at all glad to be with me. Accordingly, I am always wary of touching on such subjects, and in this case it is only in obedience to the command of a divinity, as I have said, that I have used the theorems of geometry

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Maryam Mirzakhani photo
Maryam Mirzakhani photo

„The beauty of mathematics only shows itself to more patient followers.“

—  Maryam Mirzakhani Iranian mathematician 1977 - 2017

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/aug/13/interview-maryam-mirzakhani-fields-medal-winner-mathematician

Albert A. Michelson photo
George Boole photo

„That logic, as a science, is susceptible of very wide applications is admitted; but it is equally certain that its ultimate forms and processes are mathematical.“

—  George Boole English mathematician, philosopher and logician 1815 - 1864

Source: 1850s, An Investigation of the Laws of Thought (1854), p. 12; Cited in: William Stanley Jevons (1887) The Principles of Science: : A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method. p. 155

George Boole photo

„It is upon the foundation of this general principle, that I purpose to establish the Calculus of Logic, and that I claim for it a place among the acknowledged forms of Mathematical Analysis,“

—  George Boole English mathematician, philosopher and logician 1815 - 1864

Source: 1840s, The Mathematical Analysis of Logic, 1847, p. iii
Context: That to the existing forms of Analysis a quantitative interpretation is assigned, is the result of the circumstances by which those forms were determined, and is not to be construed into a universal condition of Analysis. It is upon the foundation of this general principle, that I purpose to establish the Calculus of Logic, and that I claim for it a place among the acknowledged forms of Mathematical Analysis, regardless that in its object and in its instruments it must at present stand alone.

William Thomson photo
Frank P. Ramsey photo
John Von Neumann photo

„If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is.“

—  John Von Neumann Hungarian-American mathematician and polymath 1903 - 1957

Remark made by von Neumann as keynote speaker at the first national meeting of the Association for Computing Machinery in 1947, as mentioned by Franz L. Alt at the end of "Archaeology of computers: Reminiscences, 1945--1947", Communications of the ACM, volume 15, issue 7, July 1972, special issue: Twenty-fifth anniversary of the Association for Computing Machinery, p. 694.

Rollo May photo

„It is interesting that the term mystic is used in this derogatory sense to mean anything we cannot segmentize and count. The odd belief prevails in our culture that a thing or experience is not real if we cannot make it mathematical, and that somehow it must be real if we can reduce it to numbers.“

—  Rollo May US psychiatrist 1909 - 1994

Existence (1956) p. 39; also published in The Discovery of Being : Writings in Existential Psychology (1983), Part III : Contributions to Therapy, Ch. 6 : To Be and Not to Be, p. 94
Existence (1958)
Context: It is interesting that the term mystic is used in this derogatory sense to mean anything we cannot segmentize and count. The odd belief prevails in our culture that a thing or experience is not real if we cannot make it mathematical, and that somehow it must be real if we can reduce it to numbers. But this means making an abstraction out of it … Modern Western man thus finds himself in the strange situation, after reducing something to an abstraction, of having then to persuade himself it is real. … the only experience we let ourselves believe in as real, is that which precisely is not.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“