math quotes

Famous Math Quotes throughout the Ages

These math quotes are from famous mathematicians and philosophers spanning over thousands of years. It is interesting to note how nothing has changed in the thinking of man. These math quotes show exactly that. They show how we have grappled with ideas and concepts as we reach toward the stars.

There are wiki links relating to the various math quotes. Find out more about these amazing people.

Why can’t somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks and nobody says, and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks?
Oliver Wendell Holmes

There was more imagination in the head of Archimedes than
in that of Homer.
Voltaire

Nothing puzzles me more than time and space; and yet nothing troubles me less, as I never think about them.
Charles Lamb

A marvelous neutrality have these things mathematical, and also a strange participation between things supernatural and things natural.
John Dee

In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it’s the exact opposite.
Paul Dirac

Like the ski resort full of girls hunting for husbands and husbands hunting for girls, the situation is not as symmetrical as it might seem.
Alan MacKay

Everything of importance has been said before, by someone who did not discover it.
Alfred North Whitehead

It is generally recognised that women are better than men at languages, personal relations and multi-tasking, but less good at map-reading and spatial awareness. It is therefore not unreasonable to suppose that women might be less good at mathematics and physics.
Stephen Hawking

Then assuredly the world was made, not in time, but simultaneously with time.
St. Augustine

Today’s scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality.
Nikola Tesla

To Thales the primary question was not ‘What do we know? ‘but ‘How do we know it?’.
Aristotle

If a man’s wit be wandering, let him study the mathematics.
Francis Bacon

Time and again an entirely new philosophical movement arises which finally unmasks the old philosophical problems as pseudo- problems, and which confronts the wicked nonsense of philosophy with the good sense of meaningful, positive, empirical science. And time and again do the despised defenders of ‘traditional philosophy’ try to explain to the leaders of the latest positivist assault that the main problem of philosophy is the critical analysis of the appeal to the authority of ‘experience’ – precisely that ‘experience’ which every latest discoverer of positivism is, as ever, artlessly taking for granted.
Karl Popper

Certainly he who can digest a second or third flexion need not, methinks, be squeamish about any point in divinity.
George Berkeley

If a little knowledge is dangerous, where is the man who has so much as to be out of danger?
Thomas Henry Huxley

I never came across one of Laplace’s “Thus it plainly appears” without feeling sure that I had hours of hard work before me to fill up the chasm and find out how it plainly appears.
Nathanial Bowditch

Ignorance is always ready to admire itself. Procure yourself critical friends.
Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux

I do not see, Sir, that it is reasonable for a man to be angry at another, whom a woman has preferred to him; but angry he is, no doubt; and he is loath to be angry at himself.
Samuel Johnson

Guided only by their feeling for symmetry, simplicity, and generality, and an indefinable sense of the fitness of things, creative mathematicians now, as in the past, are inspired by the art of mathematics rather than by any prospect of ultimate usefulness.
Eric Temple Bell

Never express yourself more clearly than you think.
Niels Bohr

I hope that posterity will judge me kindly, not only as to the things which I have explained, but also as to those which I have intentionally omitted so as to leave to others the pleasure of discovery.
René Descartes

The mathematician knows some things, no doubt, but not those things one usually wants to get from him.
Albert Einstein

To guess what to keep and what to throw away takes considerable skill.  Actually it is probably merely a matter of luck, but it looks as if it takes considerable skill.
Richard Feynman

The vain presumption of understanding everything can have no other basis than never having understood anything. For anyone who had ever experienced just once the perfect understanding of one single thing, and had truly tasted how knowledge is accomplished, would recognize that of the infinity of other truths he understands nothing.
Galileo

Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.
Albert Einstein

A circumstance which has always appeared wonderful to me, is that such sublime discoveries should have been made by the sole assistance of a quadrant and a little arithmetic.
Voltaire

Without mathematics, there’s nothing you can do. Everything around you is mathematics. Everything around you is numbers.
Shakuntala Devi

God used beautiful mathematics in creating the world.
Paul Dirac

Do I contradict myself?  Very well then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.
Walt Whitman

Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared, for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer.
Charles Caleb Colton

General and abstract ideas are the source of the greatest errors of mankind.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

In mathematics the art of proposing a question must be held of higher value than solving it.
Georg Cantor

The second law of thermodynamics holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation, well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope, there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.
Arthur Eddington

There is frequently more to be learned from the unexpected questions of a child than the discourses of men, who talk in a road, according to the notions and prejudices of their education.
John Locke

Guided only by their feeling for symmetry, simplicity, and generality, and an indefinable sense of the fitness of things, creative mathematicians now, as in the past, are inspired by the art of mathematics rather than by any prospect of ultimate usefulness.
Eric Temple Bell

A Composition on the Piano
J. S. Bach

From Alexander the Platonic, not frequently nor without necessity to say to any one, or to write in a letter, that I have no leisure, nor continually to excuse the neglect of duties required by our relation to those with whom we live, by alleging urgent occupations.
Marcus Aurelius

The intellectuals’ chief cause of anguish are one another’s works.
Jacques Barzun

all ignorance toboggans into know and trudges up to ignorance again.
E.E. Cummings

The test of interesting people is that subject matter doesn’t matter.
Louis Kronenberger

In terms of mathematics textbooks, why can’t you have the scale of a national market? Right now, we have a Texas textbook that’s different from a California textbook that’s different from a Massachusetts textbook. That’s very expensive.
Bill Gates

The perplexity of life arises from there being too many interesting things in it for us to be interested properly in any of them.
G. K. Chesterton

While physics and mathematics may tell us how the universe began, they are not much use in predicting human behavior because there are far too many equations to solve. I’m no better than anyone else at understanding what makes people tick, particularly women.
Stephen Hawking

That knowledge which stops at what it does not know, is the highest knowledge.
Chuang Tzu

Intelligence is characterized by a natural incomprehension of life.
Henri Bergson

If there is a God, he’s a great mathematician.
Paul Dirac

Everyone is free to set up an opinion and to adduce proofs in support of it. Whether, though, a scientist shall find it worth his while to enter into serious investigations of opinions so advanced is a question which his reason and instinct alone can decide. If these things, in the end, should turn out to be true, I shall not be ashamed of being the last to believe them.
Ernst Mach

Black holes result from God dividing the universe by zero.
Author Unknown

Mathematics – the unshaken Foundation of Sciences, and the plentiful Fountain of Advantage to human affairs.
Isaac Barrow

If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is.
John Louis von Neumann

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be taught.
Oscar Wilde

I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.
Blaise Pascal

Now that practical skills have developed enough to provide adequately for material needs, one of these sciences which are not devoted to utilitarian ends [mathematics] has been able to arise in Egypt, the priestly caste there having the leisure necessary for disinterested research.
Aristotle

The sole cause of all human misery is the inability of people to sit quietly in their rooms.
Blaise Pascal

And as for Mixed Mathematics, I may only make this prediction, that there cannot fail to be more kinds of them, as nature grows further disclosed.
Francis Bacon

One of the chief peculiarities of this treatise is the doctrine that the true electric current, on which the electromagnetic phenomena depend, is not the same thing as the current of conduction, but that the time-variation of the electric displacement must [also] be taken into account…
James Clerk Maxwell

Although to penetrate into the intimate mysteries of nature and thence to learn the true causes of phenomena is not allowed to us, nevertheless it can happen that a certain fictive hypothesis may suffice for explaining many phenomena.
Leonhard Euler

The shortest path between two truths in the real domain passes through the complex domain.
Jacques Hadamard

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

It is easier to square a circle than to get round a mathematician.
Augustus De Morgan

There is no excellent beauty that has not some strangeness in the proportion.
Francis Bacon

In conclusion I wish to say that in working at the problem here dealt with I have had the loyal assistance of my friend and colleague M. Besso, and that I am indebted to him for several valuable suggestions.
Albert Einstein

I knew when seven justices could not take up a quarrel, but when the parties were met themselves, one of them thought but of an If, as, ‘If you said so, then I said so’ and they shook hands and swore brothers. Your If is the only peacemaker’ much virtue in If.
Shakespeare

I see I have made myself a slave to Philosophy, but if I get free of Mr. Linus’s business I will resolutely bid adew to it eternally, excepting for what I do for my private satisfaction or leave to come out after me.  For I see a man must either resolve to put out nothing new or to become a slave to defend it.
Isaac Newton

There wanted not some beams of light to guide men in the exercise of their Stocastick faculty.
John Owen

I should consider that I know nothing about physics if I were able to explain only how things might be, and were unable to demonstrate that they could not be otherwise.
Rene Descarte

The description of right lines and circles, upon which geometry is founded, belongs to mechanics.  Geometry does not teach us to draw these lines, but requires them to be drawn.
Isaac Newton

I am coming more and more to the conviction that the necessity of our geometry cannot be demonstrated…geometry should be ranked, not with arithmetic, which is purely aprioristic, but with mechanics.
Carl Gauss

Taking mathematics from the beginning of the world to the time of Newton, what he has done is much the better half.
Gottfried Leibniz

Your manuscript is both good and original.  However, that which is good is not original, and that which is original is not good.
Samuel Johnson

“That is another of your odd notions,” said the Prefect, who had the fashion of calling everything ‘odd’ that was beyond his comprehension, and thus lived amid an absolute legion of ‘oddities’.
Edgar Allan Poe

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned.
Leonardo da Vinci

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