Math Quotes

Here are some of my favorite Math quotes. You will find these quotes scattered about on every page of this site. Here they are, all in one place in no particular order. This is by no means a complete list. I'll be adding Math quotes here as well as other quotes on education and learning and then more general quotes that are semi-on topic. I collect quotes.

Enjoy. I couldn't help bolding ones that I feel sum up my philosophy or have shaped my particular teaching style, and putting in a comment or two.

For more quotes on education and learning go here.


"Teaching is a sacred trust." ~Joyce A Rogers

“Mathematics is a language.” ~Josiah Willard Gibbs

"My first mistress is the Mathematics, and she is a jealous, jealous mistress." ~Ben H Rogers

"I don't believe in mathematics." ~Albert Einstein

Me neither.

"But there is another reason for the high repute of mathematics: it is mathematics that offers the exact natural sciences a certain measure of security which, without mathematics, they could not attain." ~Albert Einstein

"Life is good for only two things, discovering mathematics and teaching mathematics." ~Siméon Poisson

“The only way to learn mathematics is to do mathematics.” ~Paul Halmos

"Numbers rule the Universe." ~Pythagoras

"Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music." —Bertrand Russell

"The understanding of mathematics is necessary for a sound grasp of ethics." ~Socrates (469-399 B. C. E)

"A mathematician is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn't there." ~Charles R. Darwin

"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

"There is a great danger in the present day lest science- teaching should degenerate into the accumulation of disconnected facts and unexplained formulae, which burden the memory without cultivating the understanding." ~J. D. Everett [In the preface to his 1873 English translation of Elementary Treatise on Natural Philosophy by A Privat Deschanel. (D. Appleton and Co.)]

We are there (or here depending on your POV and diction) in The Mathematics.

"It is hard to convince a high-school student that he will encounter a lot of problems more difficult than those of Algebra and Geometry." ~Edgar W. Howe

"If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then giving Fido only two of them." ~Phil Pastoret

"For the things of this world cannot be made known without a knowledge of mathematics." ~Roger Bacon, Opus Majus part 4 Distinctia Prima cap 1, 1267.

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” ~Albert Einstein

“Go down deep enough into anything and you will find mathematics.” ~Dean Schlicter

"Nature's great book is written in mathematics." ~Galileo

"Numbers constitute the only universal language." ~Nathanael West

"The essence of mathematics is in its freedom." ~Georg Cantor

"Like the crest of a peacock so is mathematics at the head of all knowledge." ~Anonymous [An old Indian saying. "Like the Crest of a Peacock" is the title of a book by G.G. Joseph]

"Mathematics, in one view, is the science of infinity." ~P. Davis and R. Hersh

"Mathematics is the Queen of Science, and Arithmetic the Queen of Mathematics." ~C. F. Gauss

“It is clear that the chief end of mathematical study must be to make the students think.” ~John Wesley Young

"It is a mathematical fact that fifty percent of all doctors graduate in the bottom half of their class." ~Author Unknown

"If equations are trains threading the landscape of numbers, then no train stops at pi." ~Richard Preston

"The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple." ~S. Gudder

"The human mind has never invented a labor-saving machine equal to algebra." ~Author Unknown

"Calculus is the most powerful weapon of thought yet devised by the wit of man." ~W. B. Smith

"It is not the job of mathematicians... to do correct arithmetical operations. It is the job of bank accountants." ~Samuil Shchatunovski

"Mathematics is not a careful march down a well-cleared highway, but a journey into a strange wilderness, where the explorers often get lost. Rigour should be a signal to the historian that the maps have been made, and the real explorers have gone elsewhere." ~W.S. Anglin

"Mathematics is a more powerful instrument of knowledge than any other that has been bequeathed to us by human agency." ~Descartes

"Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination." ~G. K. Chesterton, (1874 - 1936) Orthodoxy ch. 2.

"The cowboys have a way of trussing up a steer or a pugnacious bronco which fixes the brute so that it can neither move nor think. This is the hog-tie, and it is what Euclid did to geometry." ~Eric Bell, The Search for Truth

"Sometimes it is useful to know how large your zero is." ~Author Unknown

"Mathematics is the only good metaphysics." ~Lord Kelvin

"Mathematics is the supreme judge; from its decisions there is no appeal." ~Tobias Dantzig

"Music is the pleasure the human mind experiences from counting without being aware that it is counting." ~Gottfried Leibniz

"To most outsiders, modern mathematics is unknown territory. Its borders are protected by dense thickets of technical terms; its landscapes are a mass of indecipherable equations and incomprehensible concepts. Few realize that the world of modern mathematics is rich with vivid images and provocative ideas." ~Ivars Peterson

"In those whom I like, I can find no common denominator; in those whom I love I can: they all make me laugh." ~W.H. Auden

"The advancement and perfection of mathematics are intimately connected with the prosperity of the state." ~Napoleon Bonaparte

"There is nothing mysterious, as some have tried to maintain, about the applicability of mathematics. What we get by abstraction from something can be returned." ~R. L. Wilder, Introduction to the Foundations of Mathematics.

"Still more astonishing is that world of rigorous fantasy we call mathematics." ~Gregory Bateson

"Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house." ~Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality." ~Albert Einstein, Sidelights on Relativity

"God does not care about our mathematical difficulties; He integrates empirically." ~Albert Einstein

"In the binary system we count on our fists instead of on our fingers." ~Author Unknown

"In most sciences one generation tears down what another has built and what one has established another undoes. In mathematics alone each generations adds a new story to the old structure." ~Hermann Hankel

“Mathematics began to seem too much like puzzle solving. Physics is puzzle solving, too, but of puzzles created by nature, not by the mind of man.” ~Mayer, Maria Goeppert

"Twice two makes four seems to me simply a piece of insolence. Twice two makes four is a pert coxcomb who stands with arms akimbo barring your path and spitting. I admit that twice two makes four is an excellent thing, but if we are to give everything its due, twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing too." ~Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky

"Mathematics may be defined as the economy of counting. There is no problem in the whole of mathematics which cannot be solved by direct counting." ~Ernst Mach

"Why do we believe that in all matters the odd numbers are more powerful?" ~Pliny the Elder, Natural History

"Uneven numbers are the gods' delight." ~Virgil, The Eclogues

"Pure mathematics is the world's best game. It is more absorbing than chess, more of a gamble than poker, and lasts longer than Monopoly. It's free. It can be played anywhere - Archimedes did it in a bathtub." ~Richard J. Trudeau, Dots and Lines

"The man ignorant of mathematics will be increasingly limited in his grasp of the main forces of civilization." ~John Kemeny

"Although I am almost illiterate mathematically, I grasped very early in life that any one who can count to ten can count upward indefinitely if he is fool enough to do so." ~Robertson Davies, "Of the Conservation of Youth," The Table Talk of Samuel Marchbanks

"If it's green, it's biology, If it stinks, it's chemistry, If it has numbers it's math, If it doesn't work, it's technology." ~Unknown

"If I have seen farther than other men, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants." ~Isaac Newton

"Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned." ~Peter Marshall.

"The more you know, the less sure you are." ~Voltaire
"Well done is better than well said." ~Ben Franklin

"Teaching high school, in addition to knowing one's subject matter thoroughly and being able to convey it to others, requires the grit of a long-distance runner, the stamina of a boxer going 15 rounds, the temperament of a juggler and the street smarts of a three-card monte dealer." ~Professor Larry Cuban

"How you teach is more important than what you teach." ~Anon

"Any teacher that can be replaced by a computer should be replaced by a computer." ~Attributed to Isaac Asimov

"Calculus has its limits." ~Anon

"Small minds discuss persons. Average minds discuss events. Great minds discuss ideas. Really great minds discuss mathematics." ~Anon

"The mathematical rules of the universe are visible to men in the form of beauty." -- John Michel

“'Obvious' is the most dangerous word in mathematics." ~Anon

"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

"Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas." ~Albert Einstein

"Mathematics are well and good but nature keeps dragging us around by the nose." ~Albert Einstein

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

"Numbers are intellectual witnesses that belong only to mankind." ~Honore de Balzac, (1799 - 1850)

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

"I never did very well in math - I could never seem to persuade the teacher that I hadn't meant my answers literally." ~Calvin Trillin

"I don't agree with mathematics; the sum total of zeros is a frightening figure." ~Stanislaw J. Lec, More Unkempt Thoughts

"If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then giving Fido only two of them." ~Phil Pastoret

"[A mathematician is a] scientist who can figure out anything except such simple things as squaring the circle and trisecting an angle." ~Evan Esar, Esar's Comic Dictionary

"Every minute dies a man, Every minute one is born;" I need hardly point out to you that this calculation would tend to keep the sum total of the world's population in a state of perpetual equipoise, whereas it is a well-known fact that the said sum total is constantly on the increase. I would therefore take the liberty of suggesting that in the next edition of your excellent poem the erroneous calculation to which I refer should be corrected as follows: "Every moment dies a man, And one and a sixteenth is born." I may add that the exact figures are 1.067, but something must, of course, be conceded to the laws of metre. ~Charles Babbage, letter to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, about a couplet in his "The Vision of Sin"

Math is radical! ~Bumper Sticker

"There was a blithe certainty that came from first comprehending the full Einstein field equations, arabesques of Greek letters clinging tenuously to the page, a gossamer web. They seemed insubstantial when you first saw them, a string of squiggles. Yet to follow the delicate tensors as they contracted, as the superscripts paired with subscripts, collapsing mathematically into concrete classical entities - potential; mass; forces vectoring in a curved geometry - that was a sublime experience. The iron fist of the real, inside the velvet glove of airy mathematics." ~Gregory Benford, Timescape

"The laws of probability, so true in general, so fallacious in particular." ~Edward Gibbon

"It is a mathematical fact that fifty percent of all doctors graduate in the bottom half of their class." ~Author Unknown

"If two wrongs don't make a right, try three." ~Author Unknown

"Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your head." ~Carl Sandburg, "Arithmetic"

"Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer." ~Carl Sandburg, "Arithmetic"

"Even stranger things have happened; and perhaps the strangest of all is the marvel that mathematics should be possible to a race akin to the apes." ~Eric T. Bell, The Development of Mathematics

"Mathematics is a game played according to certain simple rules with meaningless marks on paper." ~David Hilbert

"Mathematics is the only good metaphysics." ~Lord Kelvin

"Today, it is not only that our kings do not know mathematics, but our philosophers do not know mathematics." ~Julius Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967)

"So if a man's wit be wandering, let him study the mathematics; for in demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so little, he must begin again." ~Francis Bacon, "Of Studies"

"The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple." ~S. Gudder

"The mathematics are distinguished by a particular privilege, that is, in the course of ages, they may always advance and can never recede." ~Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

"Trigonometry is a sine of the times." ~Author Unknown

"A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems." ~Paul Erdos

"Let us grant that the pursuit of mathematics is a divine madness of the human spirit, a refuge from the goading urgency of contingent happenings." ~Alfred North Whitehead

"The tantalizing and compelling pursuit of mathematical problems offers mental absorption, peace of mind amid endless challenges, repose in activity, battle without conflict, "refuge from the goading urgency of contingent happenings," and the sort of beauty changeless mountains present to sense tried by the present-day kaleidoscope of events." ~Morris Kline, Mathematics in Western Culture

"Mathematics is as much an aspect of culture as it is a collection of algorithms." ~Carl Boyer, 1949, calculus textbook

"The cowboys have a way of trussing up a steer or a pugnacious bronco which fixes the brute so that it can neither move nor think. This is the hog-tie, and it is what Euclid did to geometry." ~Eric Bell, The Search for Truth

One of my all time favorite Math Quotes which sums up my love hate relationship with geometry and why I often decline to tutor students in this subject, especially if they attend a public school.

"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." ~Eric Hoffer, Reflections On The Human Condition

Mathematics is the only good metaphysics. ~William Thomson Baron Kelvin of Largs

"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic." ~Bertrand Russell

"Music is the pleasure the human mind experiences from counting without being aware that it is counting." ~Gottfried Leibniz

"Music is the pleasure the human mind experiences from counting without being aware that it is counting." ~Gottfried Leibniz

"How many times can you subtract 7 from 83, and what is left afterwards? You can subtract it as many times as you want, and it leaves 76 every time." ~Author Unknown

Think about it...lol.

"To most outsiders, modern mathematics is unknown territory. Its borders are protected by dense thickets of technical terms; its landscapes are a mass of indecipherable equations and incomprehensible concepts. Few realize that the world of modern mathematics is rich with vivid images and provocative ideas." ~Ivars Peterson

"I'm sorry to say that the subject I most disliked was mathematics. I have thought about it. I think the reason was that mathematics leaves no room for argument. If you made a mistake, that was all there was to it." ~Malcom X,

"With my full philosophical rucksack I can only climb slowly up the mountain of mathematics." ~Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value

"I never did very well in math - I could never seem to persuade the teacher that I hadn't meant my answers literally." ~Calvin Trillin

"But mathematics is the sister, as well as the servant, of the arts and is touched with the same madness and genius." ~Harold Marston Morse

"Still more astonishing is that world of rigorous fantasy we call mathematics." ~Gregory Bateson

"The trouble with integers is that we have examined only the very small ones. Maybe all the exciting stuff happens at really big numbers, ones we can't even begin to think about in any very definite way. Our brains have evolved to get us out of the rain, find where the berries are, and keep us from getting killed. Our brains did not evolve to help us grasp really large numbers or to look at things in a hundred thousand dimensions." ~Ronald L. Graham

"We could use up two Eternities in learning all that is to be learned about our own world and the thousands of nations that have arisen and flourished and vanished from it. Mathematics alone would occupy me eight million years." ~Mark Twain

"Can you do Division? Divide a loaf by a knife - what's the answer to that?" ~Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

"Although he may not always recognize his bondage, modern man lives under a tyranny of numbers." ~Nicholas Eberstadt, The Tyranny of Numbers: Mismeasurement and Misrule

"The mathematics are usually considered as being the very antipodes of Poesy. Yet Mathesis and Poesy are of the closest kindred, for they are both works of the imagination." ~Thomas Hill

"I used to love mathematics for its own sake, and I still do, because it allows for no hypocrisy and no vagueness...." ~Stendhal (Henri Beyle), The Life of Henri Brulard

"If there is a God, he's a great mathematician." ~Paul Dirac

"To all of us who hold the Christian belief that God is truth, anything that is true is a fact about God, and mathematics is a branch of theology." ~Hilda Phoebe Hudson

"...the different branches of Arithmetic - Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision." ~Lewis Carroll

"[G]eometry is not true, it is advantageous." ~Henri Poincaré

"Infinity is a floorless room without walls or ceiling." ~Author Unknown

"Physics is mathematical not because we know so much about the physical world, but because we know so little; it is only its mathematical properties that we can discover." ~Bertrand Russell

"God is real, unless declared integer." ~Author Unknown

"If a healthy minded person takes an interest in science, he gets busy with his mathematics and haunts the laboratory." ~W.S. Franklin

"Proof is an idol before whom the pure mathematician tortures himself." ~Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World

There was a young man from Trinity, Who solved the square root of infinity. While counting the digits, He was seized by the fidgets, Dropped science, and took up divinity. ~Author Unknown

"One cannot escape the feeling that these mathematical formulas have an independent existence and an intelligence of their own, that they are wiser than we are, wiser even than their discoverers... " ~Heinrich Hertz

"In the binary system we count on our fists instead of on our fingers." ~Author Unknown

"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." ~James Clerk Maxwell

"The laws of nature are but the mathematical thoughts of God." ~Euclid

"I know that two and two make four - & should be glad to prove it too if I could - though I must say if by any sort of process I could convert 2 & 2 into five it would give me much greater pleasure." ~George Gordon, Lord Byron

"Nature does not count nor do integers occur in nature. Man made them all, integers and all the rest, Kronecker to the contrary notwithstanding." ~Percy William Bridgman, The Way Things Are

"A man has one hundred dollars and you leave him with two dollars. That's subtraction." ~Mae West

"I've dealt with numbers all my life, of course, and after a while you begin to feel that each number has a personality of its own. A twelve is very different from a thirteen, for example. Twelve is upright, conscientious, intelligent, whereas thirteen is a loner, a shady character who won't think twice about breaking the law to get what he wants. Eleven is tough, an outdoorsman who likes tramping through woods and scaling mountains; ten is rather simpleminded, a bland figure who always does what he's told; nine is deep and mystical, a Buddha of contemplation...." ~Paul Auster, The Music of Chance

"One of the endlessly alluring aspects of mathematics is that its thorniest paradoxes have a way of blooming into beautiful theories." ~Philip J. Davis

"I like mathematics because it is not human and has nothing particular to do with this planet or with the whole accidental universe - because like Spinoza's God, it won't love us in return." ~Bertrand Russell, 1912

"The different branches of Arithmetic - Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision." ~ Lewis Carroll from Alice in Wonderland

"The temperature of Heaven can be rather accurately computed. Our authority is Isaiah 30:26, "Moreover, the light of the Moon shall be as the light of the Sun and the light of the Sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days." Thus Heaven receives from the Moon as much radiation as we do from the Sun, and in addition 7*7 (49) times as much as the Earth does from the Sun, or 50 times in all. The light we receive from the Moon is one 1/10,000 of the light we receive from the Sun, so we can ignore that.... The radiation falling on Heaven will heat it to the point where the heat lost by radiation is just equal to the heat received by radiation, i.e., Heaven loses 50 times as much heat as the Earth by radiation. Using the Stefan-Boltzmann law for radiation, (H/E) temperature of the earth (-300K), gives H as 798K (525C). The exact temperature of Hell cannot be computed.... [However] Revelations 21:8 says "But the fearful, and unbelieving...shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." A lake of molten brimstone means that its temperature must be at or below the boiling point, 444.6C. We have, then, that Heaven, at 525C is hotter than Hell at 445C." ~From Applied Optics, vol. 11, A14, 1972

“Where there is matter, there is geometry.” Kepler, Johannes

“Truth ... and if mine eyes
Can bear its blaze, and trace its symmetries,
Measure its distance, and its advent wait,
I am no prophet -- I but calculate.” ~ Charles Mackay

"May Your Life Be Like Arithmetic:

Joys Added -
Sorrows Subtracted -
Friends Multiplied -
Love Un-Divided "
~Unknown

"Sex is the mathematics urge sublimated." ~M. C. Reed

Mathematical Sex
You + Me + Bedroom - Clothes
Practicing how to Multiply
~Some Anonymous sixth grader

Here is a page of fun math quotes and math cartoons:

http://math.sfsu.edu/beck/quotes.html

And a boat load more math quotes:

http://math.furman.edu/~mwoodard/mqs/data.html

http://www.math.okstate.edu/~wli/teach/fmq.html

"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy." ~John Adams

"Mathematics possesses not only truth. but some supreme beauty -- A beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture." ~ Bertrand Russell

"To create a good philosophy you should renounce metaphysics but be a good mathematician." ~Bertrand Russell

"If it's incomprehensible, it's mathematics." ~ Bennett Cern

"Beauty in mathematics is seeing the truth without effort." ~George Polya

"I protest against the use of infinite magnitude ..., which is never permissible in mathematics." ~ Carl Friedrich Gauss

"If all art aspires to the condition of music, all the sciences aspire to the condition of mathematics." ~ George Santanaya

"And for mathematical science, he that doubts their certainty hath need of a dose of hellebore." ~ Joseph Glanvill

"An excessive study of mathematics absolutely incapacitates the mind..." ~ Sir William Hamilton

"Round numbers are always false." ~ Samuel Johnson

"If I had inherited a fortune I should probably not have cast my lot with mathematics." ~ Joseph-Louis Lagrange

"If only gravity were working, the path would be symmetrical, it is the wind resistance that produces the tragic curve." ~ Norman Mailer

"In my free time I do differential and integral calculus." ~ Karl Marx

"No employment can be managed without arithmetic, no mechanical invention without geometry." ~Benjamin Franklin

"How is error possible in mathematics?" ~ Henri Poincare

"But if two and two and fifty make a million,..." ~ Pete Seeger

"Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself." ~ Walt Whitman

"Logic is invincible, because in order to combat logic it is necessary to use logic." ~Pierre Boatroux

"Mathematics is the handwriting on the human consciousness of the very Spirit of Life itself." ~ Claude Bragdon

"I knew a mathematician who said, 'I do not know as much as God, but I know as much as God did at my age.'" ~ Milton Shulman

"Standard mathematics has recently been rendered obsolete by the discovery that for years we have been writing the numeral five backward. This has led to reevaluation of counting as a method of getting from one to ten. Students are taught advanced concepts of Boolean algebra, and formerly unsolvable equations are dealt with by threats of reprisals." ~Allen, Woody
In Howard Eves' Return to Mathematical Circles, Boston: Prindle, Weber, and Schmidt, 1988.

"Mathematics is not a careful march down a well-cleared highway, but a journey into a strange wilderness, where the explorers often get lost. Rigour should be a signal to the historian that the maps have been made, and the real explorers have gone elsewhere." ~Anglin, W.S. "Mathematics and History", Mathematical Intelligencer, v. 4, no. 4.


Go to "Education Quotes" Page.


Go to Home School and Education Quotes


Return home from "Math Quotes".