Random Quotation

It is a pleasant surprise to him (the pure mathematician) and an added problem if he finds that the arts can use his calculations, or that the senses can verify them, much as if a composer found that sailors could heave better when singing his songs.

In J. R. Newman (ed.), The World of Mathematics, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956.

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Loci: Convergence

Mathematical Quotations

Our library of quotations is organized alphabetically by surname of the author.

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Darwin, Charles

Every new body of discovery is mathematical in form, because there is no other guidance we can have.

Davis, Philip J. and Hersh, Reuben

One began to hear it said that World War I was the chemists' war, World War II was the physicists' war, World War III (may it never come) will be the mathematicians' war.

Davis, Philip J.

One of the endlessly alluring aspects of mathematics is that its thorniest paradoxes have a way of blooming into beautiful theories.

Davis, Philip J.

The numbers are a catalyst that can help turn raving madmen into polite humans.

de Fermat, Pierre (1601?-1665)

And perhaps, posterity will thank me for having shown it that the ancients did not know everything.

de Fermat, Pierre (1601?-1665)

[In the margin of his copy of Diophantus' Arithmetica, Fermat wrote]
To divide a cube into two other cubes, a fourth power or in general any power whatever into two powers of the same denomination above the second is impossible, and I have assuredly found an admirable proof of this, but the margin is too narrow to contain it.

de Laplace, Pierre-Simon (1749 - 1827)

It is India that gave us the ingenious method of expressing all numbers by means of ten symbols, each symbol receiving a value of position as well as an absolute value; a profound and important idea which appears so simple to us now that we ignore its true merit. But its very simplicity and the great ease which it has lent to computations put our arithmetic in the first rank of useful inventions; and we shall appreciate the grandeur of the achievement the more when we remember that it escaped the genius of Archimedes and Apollonius, two of the greatest men produced by antiquity.

de Laplace, Pierre-Simon (1749 - 1827)

...by shortening the labors doubled the life of the astronomer.

de Laplace, Pierre-Simon (1749 - 1827)

Napoleon: You have written this huge book on the system of the world without once mentioning the author of the universe.
Laplace: Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis.
Later when told by Napoleon about the incident, Lagrange commented: Ah, but that is a fine hypothesis. It explains so many things.

de Laplace, Pierre-Simon (1749 - 1827)

Such is the advantage of a well constructed language that its simplified notation often becomes the source of profound theories.

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