famous quotes on maths 

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Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all. (and this one may prove useful in finding excuses for not finishing your homework sometimes!) In the margin of his copy of Diophantus' Arithmetica , Fermat wrote:
I mean the word proof not in the sense of the lawyers, who set two half proofs equal to a whole one, but in the sense of a mathematician,where half proof = 0, and it is demanded for proof that every doubt becomes impossible. If Euclid existed, he might have said the following There is no royal road to geometry. A youth who had begun to read geometry with Euclid, when he had learnt the first proposition, inquired, "What do I get by learning these things?" So Euclid called a slave and said "Give him threepence, since he must make a gain out of what he learns." Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen. Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics, I assure you that mine are greater. The search for truth is more precious than its possession. One reason why mathematics enjoys special esteem, above all other sciences, is that its laws are absolutely certain and indisputable, while those of other sciences are to some extent debatable and in constant danger of being overthrown by newly discovered facts. As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. A Mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems. Why are numbers beautiful? It's like asking why is Beethoven's Ninth Symphony beautiful. If you don't see why, someone can't tell you. I know numbers are beautiful. If they aren't beautiful, nothing is. The laws of mathematics are not merely human inventions or creations. They simply 'are'; they exist quite independently of the human intellect. The most that any(one) ... can do is to find that they are there and to take cognizance of them. Of all things, good sense is the most fairly distributed: everyone thinks he is so well supplied with it that even those who are the hardest to satisfy in every other respect never desire more of it than they already have. Perfect numbers like perfect men are very rare. Intuition is the undoubting conception of a pure and attentive mind, which arises from the light of reason alone, and is more certain than deduction. Mathematicians are born, not made. Mathematics is the art of giving the same name to different things. Mathematicians do not study objects, but relations between objects. Thus, they are free to replace some objects by others so long as the relations remain unchanged. Content to them is irrelevant: they are interested in form only. If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants. Truth is ever to be found in the simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things. If Pythagoras ever existed, he may have said this Number rules the universe. Number is the ruler of forms and ideas, and the cause of gods and demons. Say what you know, do what you must, come what may. It is impossible to be a mathematician without being a poet in soul. Many who have had an opportunity of knowing any more about mathematics confuse it with arithmetic, and consider it an arid science. In reality, however, it is a science which requires a great amount of imagination. 
Can you guess who is who? Visit one of our galleries  the famous mathematical children to help you with some of the answers. For photographs of adults visit the Main Portrait Gallery.


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