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.
The mathematician may be compared to a designer of garments, who is utterly oblivious of the creatures whom his garments may fit. To be sure, his art originated in the necessity for clothing such creatures, but this was long ago; to this day a shape will occasionally appear which will fit into the garment as if the garment had been made for it. Then there is no end of surprise and delight!
I suppose you are two fathoms deep in mathematics, and if you are, then God help you, for so am I, only with this difference, I stick fast in the mud at the bottom and there I shall remain.
Mathematicians are like lovers…Grant a mathematician the least principle, and he will draw from it a consequence which you must grant him also, and from this consequence another.
Perfect numbers like perfect men are very rare.
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems.
Since you are now studying geometry and trigonometry, I will give you a problem. A ship sails the ocean. It left Boston with a cargo of wool. It grosses 200 tons. It is bound for Le Havre. The main mast is broken, the cabin boy is on deck, there are 12 passengers aboard, the wind is blowing east-north-east, the clock points to a quarter past three in the afternoon. It is the month of May. How old is the captain?
Mathematicians are a species of Frenchmen: if you say something to them they translate it into their own language and presto! It is something entirely different.
Paul Erdos has a theory that God has a book containing all the theorems of mathematics with their absolutely most beautiful proofs, and when he wants to express particular appreciation of a proof he exclaims, “This is from the book!”
God exists since mathematics is consistent, and the devil exists since we cannot prove the consistency.
Statistics: the mathematical theory of ignorance.
Logic is the art of going wrong with confidence.
He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts—for support rather than illumination.
Bridges would be safer if only people who knew the proper definition of a real number were allowed to design them.
The theory of groups is a branch of mathematics in which one does something to something and then compares the results with the result of doing the same thing to something else, or something else to the same thing.
Black holes are where God divided by zero.
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.