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.
Bell, Eric Temple (1883-1960)
Reductio ad absurdum, which Euclid loved so much, is one of a mathematician's finest weapons. It is a far finer gambit than any chess play: a chess player may offer the sacrifice of a pawn or even a piece, but a mathematician offers the game.
Hardy, Godfrey H. (1877 - 1947)
We [he and Halmos] share a philosophy about linear algebra: we think basis-free, we write basis-free , but when the chips are down we close the office door and compute with matrices like fury.
When asked what it was like to set about proving something, the mathematician likened proving a theorem to seeing the peak of a mountain and trying to climb to the top. One establishes a base camp and begins scaling the mountain's sheer face, encountering obstacles at every turn, often retracing one's steps and struggling every foot of the journey. Finally when the top is reached, one stands examining the peak, taking in the view of the surrounding countryside and then noting the automobile road up the other side!
Kleinhenz, Robert J.
There are in this world optimists who feel that any symbol that starts off with an integral sign must necessarily denote something that will have every property that they should like an integral to possess. This of course is quite annoying to us rigorous mathematicians; what is even more annoying is that by doing so they often come up with the right answer.
McShane, E. J.
You know we all became mathematicians for the same reason: we were lazy.
Pure mathematics, may it never be of any use to anyone.
Smith, Henry John Stephen (1826 - 1883)
Kepler's principal goal was to explain the relationship between the existence of five planets (and their motions) and the five regular solids. It is customary to sneer at Kepler for this. It is instructive to compare this with the current attempts to "explain" the zoology of elementary particles in terms of irreducible representations of Lie groups.
Copyright © 2001 Alexander F. Ritter
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