Famous Math Quotes!

For the discussion of math. Duh.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
Xutar
Posts: 131
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2008 10:38 pm UTC

Famous Math Quotes!

Postby Xutar » Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:20 pm UTC

It doesn't appear we have a thread for this yet, but I saw a few good ones in "Math Jokes"
A few of my favorite are attributed to John von Neumann:

"In mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them."
and,
"If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is."

ntietz
Posts: 73
Joined: Sun Aug 31, 2008 6:05 pm UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby ntietz » Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:23 pm UTC

"A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems." Commonly attributed to P. Erdos.

User avatar
z4lis
Posts: 767
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 10:59 pm UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby z4lis » Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:12 pm UTC

"In Hilbert space, no one can hear you scream."

And my current sig: "What they (mathematicians) define as interesting depends on their particular field of study; mathematical anaylsts find pain and extreme confusion interesting, whereas geometers are interested in beauty."
What they (mathematicians) define as interesting depends on their particular field of study; mathematical anaylsts find pain and extreme confusion interesting, whereas geometers are interested in beauty.

User avatar
Dason
Posts: 1311
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 7:06 am UTC
Location: ~/

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby Dason » Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:11 pm UTC

"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?" - Sherlock Holmes
double epsilon = -.0000001;

User avatar
skeptical scientist
closed-minded spiritualist
Posts: 6142
Joined: Tue Nov 28, 2006 6:09 am UTC
Location: San Francisco

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby skeptical scientist » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:40 pm UTC

z4lis wrote:"In Hilbert space, no one can hear you scream."

And my current sig: "What they (mathematicians) define as interesting depends on their particular field of study; mathematical anaylsts find pain and extreme confusion interesting, whereas geometers are interested in beauty."

Could you post the source along with the quote if you know it?

One of my sigs for a long time was this quote: "If a 'religion' is defined to be a system of ideas that contains unprovable statements, then Gödel taught us that mathematics is not only a religion, it is the only religion that can prove itself to be one." —John Barrow

I also found a few other good ones in googling the exact phrasing of that quote:

"Obvious is the most dangerous word in mathematics." —E. T. Bell

"I hate algebra." —John H. Conway (Invited AMS address, Toronto, 9/23/00)

"Numbers is hardly real and they never have feelings,
but you push too hard, even numbers got limits.
Why did one straw break the camel's back? Here's the secret:
the million other straws underneath it. It's all mathematics." —Mos Def
I'm looking forward to the day when the SNES emulator on my computer works by emulating the elementary particles in an actual, physical box with Nintendo stamped on the side.

"With math, all things are possible." —Rebecca Watson

User avatar
Talith
Proved the Goldbach Conjecture
Posts: 848
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2008 1:28 am UTC
Location: Manchester - UK

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby Talith » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:55 pm UTC

There is a computer disease that anybody who works with computers knows about. It's a very serious disease and it interferes completely with the work. The trouble with computers is that you 'play' with them!
Richar P. Feynman

User avatar
TheTedinator
Posts: 62
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:43 am UTC
Location: Oregon

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby TheTedinator » Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:40 am UTC

Dason wrote:"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?" - Sherlock Holmes


Is that an actual (Conan Doyle-written) quote or is it just from the new movie?

User avatar
mmmcannibalism
Posts: 2150
Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:16 am UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby mmmcannibalism » Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:24 am UTC

TheTedinator wrote:
Dason wrote:"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?" - Sherlock Holmes


Is that an actual (Conan Doyle-written) quote or is it just from the new movie?


I can say that it(at least the general phrasing not literal wording) is definitely pre movie.
Izawwlgood wrote:I for one would happily live on an island as a fuzzy seal-human.

Oregonaut wrote:Damn fetuses and their terroist plots.

mr-mitch
Posts: 477
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 6:56 pm UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby mr-mitch » Mon Mar 15, 2010 7:51 am UTC

I thought Spock said it, not Sherlock Holmes...

Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. Albert Einstein

User avatar
Kurushimi
Posts: 841
Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:06 am UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby Kurushimi » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:54 am UTC

I remember an episode of Jimmy Neutron where they said that, referencing Sherlock Holmes. So, it definitely wasn't only in the new movie, but may not have been in an actual Sherlock Holmes book.

User avatar
majikthise
Posts: 155
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 2:28 am UTC
Location: Bristol, UK

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby majikthise » Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:35 pm UTC

It was in the books. The quote which is frequently misattributed to the books is "elementary, my dear Watson".
Is this a wok that you've shoved down my throat, or are you just pleased to see me?

User avatar
skeptical scientist
closed-minded spiritualist
Posts: 6142
Joined: Tue Nov 28, 2006 6:09 am UTC
Location: San Francisco

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby skeptical scientist » Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:27 pm UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:
TheTedinator wrote:
Dason wrote:"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?" - Sherlock Holmes


Is that an actual (Conan Doyle-written) quote or is it just from the new movie?


I can say that it(at least the general phrasing not literal wording) is definitely pre movie.

Wikiquote lists at least four variations on it, with page numbers from the original stories, so it's clearly due to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself. The wording varies slightly from appearance to appearance, so it gets quoted slightly differently each time. The phrasing in my memory is, "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth," but I'm not sure if that exact wording appears anywhere.
I'm looking forward to the day when the SNES emulator on my computer works by emulating the elementary particles in an actual, physical box with Nintendo stamped on the side.

"With math, all things are possible." —Rebecca Watson

User avatar
mdyrud
Posts: 205
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:34 pm UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby mdyrud » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:25 pm UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth," but I'm not sure if that exact wording appears anywhere.

That is the wording I am most familiar with. It definitely applies to math and science. Like Einstein. The only way he could reconcile some different findings was to mess with time. It's crazy, but it works.

User avatar
Magnanimous
Madmanananimous
Posts: 3491
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:11 pm UTC
Location: Land of Hipsters and Rain (LOHAR)

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby Magnanimous » Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:35 pm UTC

“The highest form of pure thought is in mathematics” -- Plato

“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

Certhas
Posts: 301
Joined: Thu Dec 13, 2007 11:16 pm UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby Certhas » Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:36 pm UTC

"Wir müssen wissen — wir werden wissen!" - Hilbert

"Read Euler, read Euler, he is the master of us all." - Laplace

"Mathematics is the queen of sciences and number theory is the queen of mathematics." - Gauss

And there is a great one which I believe to be due to Russell but can't find along the lines of:

"Since we started proving the most elementary truths we have found many of them to be wrong."
"I conclude that all is well," says Edipus, and that remark is sacred.
- Camus, The Myth of Sysiphus

Mental Health Break

User avatar
Sygnon
Posts: 32
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2007 1:47 am UTC
Contact:

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby Sygnon » Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:27 pm UTC

for every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong - Mencken

Suffusion of Yellow
Posts: 42
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 6:15 pm UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby Suffusion of Yellow » Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:53 am UTC

Certhas wrote:"Wir müssen wissen — wir werden wissen!" - Hilbert


"Nope" -Godel

User avatar
GyRo567
Posts: 107
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 4:59 am UTC
Location: Austin, TX
Contact:

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby GyRo567 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:48 am UTC

Bertrand Russell said he had written nothing about aesthetic because he knew nothing about it. I'm not sure either part is true.

'The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as in poetry.' ~Russell

'Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show.' ~Russell

'Mathematics takes us still further from what is human, into the region of absolute necessity, to which not only the world, but every possible world, must conform.' ~Russell

'In adolescence, I hated life and was continually on the verge of suicide, from which, however, I was restrained by the desire to know more mathematics.' ~Still Russell (though this one is from Conquest of Happiness, not the Study of Mathematics)

'Gödel turned out to be an unadulterated Platonist, and apparently believed that an eternal 'not' was laid up in heaven, where virtuous logicians might hope to meet it hereafter.' ~Russell's Autobiography (and not quite true as Gödel replied)


And why not, someone other than Bertrand Russell:
'A mathematician, like a painter or poet, is a maker of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made with ideas. . . . The mathematician’s patterns, like the painter’s or the poet’s must be beautiful; the ideas like the colours or the words, must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.' ~G.H. Hardy

A sentimental thought before I go:
'You don't have to believe in God, but you should believe in The Book.' ~Paul Erdős

(This page says the coffee-theorem quote is actually Renyi, not Erdos? http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Paul_Erd%C ... attributed )
I came here to read a cool post, a witty dialogue, a fresh joke, but stumbled upon a "bump"...
Way to go, jerk...
~CordlessPen

orangeperson
Posts: 117
Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 2:17 am UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby orangeperson » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:25 pm UTC

"The above proposition [2+2=4] is occasionally useful."
-Principia Mathematica
spjork.

User avatar
BlackSails
Posts: 5315
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:48 am UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby BlackSails » Thu Mar 25, 2010 2:06 am UTC

Mathematicians can only prove trivial things, because everything proven is trivial - Richard Feynman

AllSaintsDay
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2008 1:01 am UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby AllSaintsDay » Thu Mar 25, 2010 6:47 am UTC

This one was at the beginning of a chapter of the Prob book I checked out (Koshnevisan):
"Experimentalists think that it is a mathematical theorem, while mathematicians believe it to be an experimental fact."~Gabriel Lippman, in a discussion with J. J. Poincare about the Central Limit Theorem

Also,
"Left as an exercise to the reader."~Every text I've ever had that didn't use the terser parenthetical "(Prove!)"

newbie
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:19 pm UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby newbie » Thu Mar 25, 2010 10:25 pm UTC

This was on the wall of my Algebra teacher's classroom.
“From the intrinsic evidence of his creation, the Great Architect of the Universe now begins to appear as a pure mathematician.” James Jeans

Helldrake
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:20 am UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby Helldrake » Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:40 am UTC

Not really a "math" quote but what the hell.
From a D&D book.

"Draconic is the language of magic. Celestial and infernal, the languages of the gods. I speak math, the very language of creation itself" - Geometer


edit: (The wordfilter somehow takes the essence away... xD)

edit 2: I hate you

User avatar
Natty
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:08 pm UTC
Location: New Hamshire
Contact:

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby Natty » Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:39 pm UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:One of my sigs for a long time was this quote: "If a 'religion' is defined to be a system of ideas that contains unprovable statements, then Gödel taught us that mathematics is not only a religion, it is the only religion that can prove itself to be one." —John Barrow


Wow. I love this one! Never heard it before.
Creator of the Frosted Bacon webcomic.

User avatar
Indubitable.
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 4:56 pm UTC
Location: Scotland

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby Indubitable. » Wed May 26, 2010 1:10 am UTC

TheTedinator wrote:"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?" - Sherlock Holmes


Whenever I see/hear this quote, I cannot help but be reminded of Douglas Adams' novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, specifically this quote (for which I just dug out my copy):
Dirk Gently (née Cjelli) wrote:Sherlock Holmes observed that once you have eliminated the impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.


This is further expanded upon in the second novel in the duology, The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul:
[spoilered for length]
Spoiler:
Dirk Gently (née Cjelli) wrote:Ah yes, your girl in the wheelchair - a perfect example. The idea that she is somehow receiving yesterday's stock market prices apparently out of thin air is merely impossible, and therefore must be the case, because the idea that she is maintaining an immensely complex and laborious hoax of no benefit to herself is hopelessly improbable. The first idea merely supposes that there is something we don't know about, and God knows there are enough of those. The second, however, runs contrary to something fundamental and human which we do know about. We should therefore be suspicious of it and all its specious rationality.


In short, one ought not to discount the impossible in favour of the improbable because the impossible implies that there is some unknown force at work whereas the improbable runs against something about which we DO know.
At least, this is the case when it comes to human nature/pseudo-magical powers/etc.
My bass is called Rosa and I love her lots. <3

8-Bit Theater wrote:WM: Ok, an orphanage is on fire, what do you--
BM: Use FIRE-3 to torch the building and then pick off any survivors with BOLT-2 set to a wide dispersal.

User avatar
Kurushimi
Posts: 841
Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:06 am UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby Kurushimi » Wed May 26, 2010 1:56 am UTC

"I can't say I'm surprised. I never thought he had enough imagination to be a mathematician." - David Hilbert after being told one of his students dropped out to study poetry.

User avatar
PM 2Ring
Posts: 3715
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:19 pm UTC
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby PM 2Ring » Wed May 26, 2010 8:52 am UTC

Hilbert was cool. I've always loved his retort against his colleagues who didn't want Emmy Noether to work at Gottingen:

Zimaths wrote:It is a sad fact that there are few women in mathematics, so few that sometimes you wonder if the ones you hear of are considered to be great only as a condescension to their gender. But not Amalie Emmy Noether. Once when Edward Landau was asked if he would agree to the statement that she was a great woman mathematician, he reversed the question: ``I can testify that she is a great mathematician, but that she is a woman, I cannot swear.'' (this seemingly chauvinistic statement should be seen in the context of the times)

She was born in 1882, the eldest of eleven children. Her dad, Max Noether, was a mathematics professor at the University of Erlangen. She had a normal childhood --- complete with school, housework and dancing --- and qualified at 18 to be a English and French teacher. But she wanted to go to university, no easy task in the Germany of 1900! Eventually she became half of the entire female population of the thousand students at Erlangen, earning a doctorate in 1907.

Till 1916, she worked (without pay since only men could be employed) as a researcher at the Mathematical Institute in Erlangen, giving seminars and sometimes substituting for her aging father in lectures. Then she moved to Gottingen, where the great mathematicians David Hilbert and Felix Klein tried desperately to get her a formal position. But the road was blocked by narrow-minded members of the Prussian establishment, prompting Hilbert to angrily say:

``I do not see that the sex of the candidate is an argument against her admission as Privatdozent (lecturer). After all, we are a university, not a bathing establishment.''

Jorb
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:44 am UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby Jorb » Wed May 26, 2010 9:00 am UTC

"I wouldn't describe myself as being particularly fanatical about mathematical induction, but it is rather cute." - Prof at my university

"Contrary to widespread belief, mathematicians do go to parties" - Ian Stewart
"...you will memorize it automagically" - You, sir, name?

rhetorical
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:44 am UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby rhetorical » Wed May 26, 2010 2:55 pm UTC

"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." Einstein (may not be exact wording)

Cmebeh
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 4:57 am UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby Cmebeh » Sun May 30, 2010 4:38 am UTC

orangeperson wrote:"The above proposition [2+2=4] is occasionally useful."
-Principia Mathematica


Pretty sure its 1+1 = 2

"Math puns are the first sine of madness"
Cmebeh wrote:LOL you computer scientists; isn't it obvious? P = NP is undecidable à la continuum hypothesis

User avatar
modularblues
Posts: 689
Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2009 8:33 am UTC
Location: Escher's Wonderland
Contact:

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby modularblues » Sun May 30, 2010 4:02 pm UTC

"Think deeply of simple things."
- Ross Mathematics Program motto

MidsizeBlowfish
Posts: 77
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:17 pm UTC
Location: Champaign, IL

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby MidsizeBlowfish » Sun May 30, 2010 4:43 pm UTC

If you know french...
"Allez en avant et la foi vous viendra"
Jean d'Alembert to students struggling with calculus
(Go forward and faith will come to you)

User avatar
Skraxt
Posts: 43
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:18 am UTC

Re: Famous Math Quotes!

Postby Skraxt » Mon May 31, 2010 5:57 pm UTC

Obi Wan Kenobi wrote:An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age
"Truth emerges more readily from error than from confusion" -Francis Bacon


Return to “Mathematics”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests