Quotes about mathematics

A collection of quotes on the topic of mathematics.

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Ronald Fisher photo

„I believe that no one who is familiar, either with mathematical advances in other fields, or with the range of special biological conditions to be considered, would ever conceive that everything could be summed up in a single mathematical formula, however complex.“

—  Ronald Fisher English statistician, evolutionary biologist, geneticist, and eugenicist 1890 - 1962

The evolutionary modification of genetic phenomena. Proceedings of the 6th International Congress of Genetics 1, 165-72, 1932.
1930s

Albert Einstein photo

„Pure mathematics is in its way the poetry of logical ideas.“

—  Albert Einstein German-born physicist and founder of the theory of relativity 1879 - 1955

1930s, Obituary for Emmy Noether (1935)
Context: Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. One seeks the most general ideas of operation which will bring together in simple, logical and unified form the largest possible circle of formal relationships. In this effort toward logical beauty spiritual formulas are discovered necessary for the deeper penetration into the laws of nature.

Roger Bacon photo

„If in other sciences we should arrive at certainty without doubt and truth without error, it behooves us to place the foundations of knowledge in mathematics…“

—  Roger Bacon, book Opus Majus

Bk. 1, ch. 4. Translated by Robert B. Burke, in: Edward Grant (1974) Source Book in Medieval Science. Harvard University Press. p. 93
Opus Majus, c. 1267

Roger Bacon 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.

Aryabhata photo
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 Einstein photo

„But to me our equations are far more important, for politics are only a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation stands forever.“

—  Albert Einstein German-born physicist and founder of the theory of relativity 1879 - 1955

Earliest source located is the book Brighter than a Thousand Suns: A Personal History of the Atomic Scientists by Robert Jungk (1958), p. 249, which says that Einstein made the comment during "a walk with Ernst Straus, a young mathematician acting as his scientific assistant at Princeton."
Variant: "Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity." From A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking (2005), p. 144 http://books.google.com/books?id=4Y0ZBW19n_YC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA144#v=onepage&q&f=false.
Earlier, Straus recalled the German version of the quote in Helle Zeit, Dunkle Zeit: In Memoriam Albert Einstein (1956) edited by Carl Seelig<!-- Zurich: Europa Verlag -->, p. 71. There the quote was given as Ja, so muß man seine Zeit zwischen der Politik und unseren Gleichungen teilen. Aber unsere Gleichungen sind mir doch viel wichtiger; denn die Politik ist für die Gegenwart da, aber solch eine Gleichung is etwas für die Ewigkeit.
Attributed in posthumous publications
Context: Yes, we now have to divide up our time like that, between politics and our equations. But to me our equations are far more important, for politics are only a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation stands forever.

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Albert Einstein photo
Mortimer J. Adler photo
David Hilbert photo

„Mathematics knows no races or geographic boundaries; for mathematics, the cultural world is one country.“

—  David Hilbert German prominent mathematician 1862 - 1943

Quoted in Mathematical Circles Revisited (1971) by Howard Whitley Eves

David Hilbert photo
Aryabhata 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.

Henri Fayol photo
Noam Chomsky photo

„There is a noticeable general difference between the sciences and mathematics on the one hand, and the humanities and social sciences on the other.“

—  Noam Chomsky american linguist, philosopher and activist 1928

Quotes 1990s, 1990-1994, Noam Chomsky: A Life of Dissent, 1992
Context: There is a noticeable general difference between the sciences and mathematics on the one hand, and the humanities and social sciences on the other. It's a first approximation, but one that is real. In the former, the factors of integrity tend to dominate more over the factors of ideology. It's not that scientists are more honest people. It's just that nature is a harsh taskmaster. You can lie or distort the story of the French Revolution as long as you like, and nothing will happen. Propose a false theory in chemistry, and it'll be refuted tomorrow.

Claude Debussy photo

„Music is a mysterious mathematical process whose elements are part of Infinity. … There is nothing more musical than a sunset.“

—  Claude Debussy French composer 1862 - 1918

As quoted in The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music (1996) by Don Michael Randel
Context: Music is a mysterious mathematical process whose elements are part of Infinity. … There is nothing more musical than a sunset. He who feels what he sees will find no more beautiful example of development in all that book which, alas, musicians read but too little — the book of Nature.

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