Today morning I just happened to have a look at and admire my collection of books. And I picked up Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh, a book that I had read almost 5 years ago for the first time. It is a brilliant book, especially for somebody like me to whom the mathematical details of the very long proof featuring the taniyama-shimura conjecture, modular forms and many many other things would have made no sense and I don’t pretend to understand the details. Ofcourse I know in a broad outline how the proof progressed and what it was about. Simon Singh’s book gives a gripping, almost electric history of the famous 358 year old problem and also chronicles Andrew Wiles’s love affair with it. I finished the book in one sitting.

[“I think I’ll stop here”: Andrew Wiles making history]

The *Times* gives a fitting one liner on the book:

To read is it to realize that there is a world of beauty and intellectual challenge that is denied to 99.9 percent of us who are not high-level mathematicians.

—

The book is divided into seven chapters and the epilogue. Each begins with a beautiful quote. I intend to write them down here:

1. Archimedes will be remembered when Aeschylus is forgotten, because languages die and mathematical ideas do not. “Immortality” may be a silly word, but probably a mathematician has the best chance of whatever it may mean.– G. H. Hardy

—

2. “Do you know,” the Devil confided, “not even the best mathematicians on other planets – all far ahead of yours – have solved it? Why, there is a chap on Saturn – he looks something like a mushroom on stilts – who solves partial differential equations mentally; and even he’s given up.”– Arthur Porges, “The Devil and Simon Flagg”

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3. 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

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4. Proof is an idol before which the mathematician tortures himself.– Sir Arthur Eddington

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5. The mathematician’s patterns, like the painter’s or the poet’s, must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colours or the words, must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.– G. H. Hardy

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6. An expert problem solver must be enodowed with two incompatible qualities – a restless imagination and a patient pertinacity.– Howard W. Eves

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7. A problem worthy of attack

proves its worth by fighting back.– Piet Hein

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**Posting your favorite quote on mathematics in comments is encouraged! **Thanks!

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on November 13, 2008 at 10:01 am |thoughtcourtAs 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

on November 26, 2008 at 9:24 pm |Quotes loverYou might like these I’ve collected:

Albert Einstein

“Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.”

“Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater.”

“Yes, we have to divide up our time like that, between our politics and our equations. But to me our equations are far more important, for politics are only a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation stands forever.”

Albert Einstein“One reason why mathematics enjoys special esteem, above all other sciences, is that its laws are absolutely certain and indisputable, while those of other sciences are to some extent debatable and in constant danger of being overthrown by newly discovered facts”

Albert Einstein“But the creative principle resides in mathematics. In a certain sense, therefore, I hold true that pure thought can grasp reality, as the ancients dreamed.”

“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. ”

“Since the mathematicians have invaded the theory of relativity, I

do not understand it myself any more.”

“In the beginning (if there was such a thing), God created Newton’s

laws of motion together with the necessary masses and forces. This

is all; everything beyond this follows from the development of

appropriate mathematics methods by means of deduction.”

“The grand aim of all science is to cover the greatest number of

empirical facts by logical deduction from the smallest number of

hypotheses or axioms.”

AristotleThose who assert that the mathematical sciences say nothing of the beautiful or the good are in error. For these sciences say and prove a great deal about them; if they do not expressly mention them, but prove attributes which are their results or definitions, it is not true that they tell us nothing about them. The chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry and definiteness, which the mathematical sciences demonstrate in a special degree.

The mathematical sciences particularly exhibit order, symmetry, and limitation; and these are the greatest forms of the beautiful.

“There are things which seem incredible to most men who have not studied mathematics.”

The primary question was not what do we know, but how do we know it.

Carl Friedrich Gauss“Mathematics is the Queen of the Sciences.”

Copernicus“Mathematics is like checkers in being suitable for the young, not too difficult, amusing, and without peril to the state.”

Euclid“The laws of nature are but the mathematical thoughts of God.”

“There is no Royal Road to Geometry.”

Galileo Galilei“If I were again beginning my studies, I would follow the advice of Plato and start with mathematics.”

“Nature’s great book is written in mathematics.”

“The Universe is a grand book which cannot be read until one first

learns to comprehend the language and become familiar with the

characters in which it is composed. It is written in the language

of mathematics…”

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

Henri Poincare“Mathematicians are born, not made.”

Isaac Barrow“Mathematics – the unshaken Foundation of Sciences, and the plentiful Fountain of Advantage to human affairs.”

Isaac Newton“The latest authors, like the most ancient, strove to subordinate the phenomena of nature to the laws of mathematics.”

John Kenemy“The man ignorant of mathematics will be increasingly limited in his grasp of the main forces of civilization.”

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

John Locke“Logic is the anatomy of thought.”

Leonardo da Vinci“Mechanics is the paradise of the mathematical sciences, because by means of it one comes to the fruits of mathematics.”

“Whoever despises the high wisdom of mathematics nourishes himself on delusion.”

“No human investigation can be called real science if it cannot be

demonstrated mathematically.”

Lord Kelvin“Do not imagine that mathematics is hard and crabbed, and repulsive to common sense. It is merely the etherialization of common sense.”

Malcolm X“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.”

Napoleon“The advancement and perfection of mathematics are intimately

connected with the prosperity of the state.”

Paul Dirac“If there is a God, he’s a great mathematician.”

“Mathematics is the tool specially suited for dealing with abstract concepts of any kind and there is no limit to its power in this field.”

Peter F. DruckerThere are no creeds in mathematics.

PlatoI have hardly ever known a mathematician who was capable of reasoning.

“Mathematics is like checkers in being suitable for the young, not too difficult, amusing, and without peril to the state.”

“The highest form of pure thought is in mathematics”

“Geometry existed before creation.”

“Numbers are the highest degree of knowledge. It is

knowledge itself.”

“Geometry existed before creation.”

“God ever geometrizes.”

“Let no one ignorant of geometry enter here.”

— inscription above Plato’s Academy

“He is unworthy of the name of man who is ignorant of the fact that

the diagonal of a square is incommensurable with its side.

“There still remain three studies suitable for free man. Arithmetic

is one of them.”

Pythagoras“Geometry is knowledge of the eternally existent.”

“There is geometry in the humming of the strings.”

Roger Bacon“Mathematics is the gate and key of the sciences. …Neglect of mathematics works injury to all knowledge, since he who is ignorant of it cannot know the other sciences or the things of this world.”

“If in other sciences we should arrive at certainty without doubt and truth without error, it behooves us to place the foundations of knowledge in mathematics.”

on November 26, 2008 at 10:11 pm |Shubhendu TrivediAhh. Great ones friend! :)

on June 1, 2010 at 11:08 am |jatin‘bla bla’ maths is fantastic

on May 6, 2011 at 8:30 am |Vinod SinghGreat quotes as the subject is

on November 17, 2011 at 7:39 am |anna garciahi…..i love the quotes written here!!!!!!!!

on May 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm |Annika HeegaardThese quotes are very interesting!!! Thank you…

on July 28, 2012 at 12:23 pm |aftaabkhanthe quotes are really amazing !

on October 19, 2012 at 9:13 am |sri valliI hate quotes

on November 28, 2012 at 4:27 pm |Anubhuti Singhi must say

“a great find”

on January 29, 2014 at 5:28 am |fezal nedariathis thoughts is very inspiring to me to change my life.

on February 17, 2014 at 10:53 am |Manreza villegasWhat a nice qoutes!!!!! I really love it,,,, it makes me love mathematics more:). “A mathematician is half a philosopher,,,and a philosopher is half a mathematician” this is one of the inspiring qoutes ive ever read and it makes me more interested to discover or expermentalized the world of mathematics!!!!!!

on July 24, 2014 at 8:42 pm |Pearlene Taylor“If people do not believe mathematics is simple it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is.” -John Von Neumann