An aphorism is nothing else but the slightest
form of writing raised to the highest level of expressive communication. Carl William Brown





The formula "two and two make five" is not without its attractions.


Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881, Russian novelist)


If I am given a formula, and I am ignorant of its meaning, it cannot teach me anything, but if I already know it what does the formula teach me?

St. Augustine (354-430)

The pursuit of pretty formulas and neat theorems can no doubt quickly degenerate into a silly vice, but so can the quest for austere generalities which are so very general indeed that they are incapable of application to any particular.

Eric Temple Bell (1883-1960)


...She knew only that if she did or said thus-and-so, men would unerringly respond with the complimentary thus-and-so. It was like a mathematical formula and no more difficult, for mathematics was the one subject that had come easy to Scarlett in her schooldays.

Margaret Mitchell


Mathematics has the completely false reputation of yielding infallible conclusions. Its infallibility is nothing but identity. Two times two is not four, but it is just two times two, and that is what we call four for short. But four is nothing new at all. And thus it goes on and on in its conclusions, except that in the higher formulas the identity fades out of sight.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


 You treat world history as a mathematician does mathematics, in which nothing but laws and formulae exist, no reality, no good and evil, no time, no yesterday, no tomorrow, nothing but an eternal, shallow, mathematical present.

Hermann Hesse(1877-1962)


...from the time of Kepler to that of Newton, and from Newton to Hartley, not only all things in external nature, but the subtlest mysteries of life and organization, and even of the intellect and moral being, were conjured within the magic circle of mathematical formulae.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)


These thoughts did not come in any verbal formulation. I rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I may try to express it in words afterward.
In H. Eves Mathematical Circles Adieu, Boston: Prindle, Weber and Schmidt, 1977.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)


One merit of mathematics few will deny: it says more in fewer words than any other science. The formula, e^iπ = -1 expressed a world of thought, of truth, of poetry, and of the religious spirit "God eternally geometrizes."

David Eugene Smith


Another advantage of a mathematical statement is that it is so definite that it might be definitely wrong; and if it is found to be wrong, there is a plenteous choice of amendments ready in the mathematicians' stock of formulae. Some verbal statements have not this merit; they are so vague that they could hardly be wrong, and are correspondingly useless.

Lewis Fry Richardson (1881 - 1953)


One cannot escape the feeling that these mathematical formulas have an independent existence and an intelligence of their own, that they are wiser that we are, wiser even than their discoverers, that we get more out of them than was originally put into them.

Heinrich Hertz


I was just going to say, when I was interrupted, that one of the many ways of classifying minds is under the heads of arithmetical and algebraical intellects. All economical and practical wisdom is an extension of the following arithmetical formula: 2 + 2 = 4. Every philosophical proposition has the more general character of the expression a + b = c. We are mere operatives, empirics, and egotists until we learn to think in letters instead of figures.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

If you see a formula in the Physical Review that extends over a quarter of a page, forget it. It's wrong. Nature isn't that complicated.

Bernd T. Matthias

Gel'fand amazed me by talking of mathematics as though it were poetry. He once said about a long paper bristling with formulas that it contained the vague beginnings of an idea which could only hint at and which he had never managed to bring out more clearly. I had always thought of mathematics as being much more straightforward: a formula is a formula, and an algebra is an algebra, but Gel'fand found hedgehogs lurking in the rows of his spectral sequences!

Dusa McDuff


This seems to be one of the many cases in which the admitted accuracy of mathematical processes is allowed to throw a wholly inadmissible appearance of authority over the results obtained by them. Mathematics may be compared to a mill of exquisite workmanship, which grinds your stuff of any degree of fineness; but, nevertheless, what you get out depends on what you put in; and as the grandest mill in the world will not extract wheat flour from peascods, so pages of formulae will not get a definite result out of loose data.

Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)


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