02 October 2008

Freakonomics compiles math quotes

An interesting list of quotes about mathematics, as compiled by readers of the Freakonomics blog.

Here's one that's new to me and that resonates with me at the moment, having spent the afternoon creating a document which is essentially a list of facts, to which I'll add the proofs later. It's attributed to Poincare, although a bit of googling seems to indicate he said it about science, not mathematics.
"Math is built with facts as a house is built with bricks, but a collection of facts cannot be called mathematics anymore than a pile of bricks can be called a house."
What I have now is a pile of bricks. I have the mortar that holds them together, but it's not in the same place.

You'll also find the text of the poem which begins "I’m sure that I will always be a lonely number like root three", featured in Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay.


Carlos said...

"I’m sure that I will always be a lonely number like root three"

Ok, I'll bite: How is sqrt(3) lonely? If anything, the irrationals should feel crowded. Rational numbers are the ones few and far between in the sea of reals... :)

Niel said...

Ah, but it is neither transcendental like the vast unwashed masses of the real numbers, nor one of the respected rational numbers, let alone the integral elite. It occupies a netherland consisting of neither the common nor the prestigious.

Johan said...

I thought the Poincare qoute was about science in general, from one of the popular science books he wrote.

That is the way I have seen it qouted, in a economics (!) textbook among others.

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