MATHQUOTES
 

Portrait of Eric Temple Bell

Eric Temple Bell

1883–1960

Scottish mathematician

To appreciate the living spirit rather than the dry bones of mathematics, it is necessary to inspect the work of a master at first hand. Textbooks and treatises are an unavoidable evil…The very crudities of the first attack on a significant problem by a master are more illuminating than all the pretty elegance of the standard texts which has been won at the cost of perhaps centuries of finicky polishing.

TOPICS: learning, textbooks, mastery

“Obvious” is the most dangerous word in mathematics.

TOPICS: obvious

The longer mathematics lives the more abstract—and therefore, possibly also the more practical—it becomes.

TOPICS: abstraction, practicality

Creative mathematicians now, as in the past, are inspired by the art of mathematics rather than by any prospect of ultimate usefulness.

TOPICS: art, creativity, practicality

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