In Samoa, when elementary schools were first established, the natives developed an absolute craze for arithmetical calculations. They laid aside their weapons and were to be seen going about armed with slate and pencil, setting sums and problems to one another and to European visitors. The Honourable Frederick Walpole declares that his visit to the beautiful island was positively embittered by ceaseless multiplication and division.
If a man is at once acquainted with the geometric foundation of things and with their festal splendor, his poetry is exact and his arithmetic musical.
Thus number may be said to rule the whole world of quantity, and the four rules of arithmetic may be regarded as the complete equipment of the mathematician.
There is nothing so troublesome to mathematical practice…than multiplications, divisions, square and cubical extractions of great numbers…I began therefore to consider…how I might remove those hindrances.
I do hate sums. There is no greater mistake than to call arithmetic an exact science. There are hidden laws of number which it requires a mind like mine to perceive. For instance, if you add a sum from the bottom up, and then again from the top down, the result is always different.