8 Beautiful Math Quotes That Will Make You Think Deeply

Ali
7 min readMay 25, 2023

Math is more than just numbers and equations — it’s a beautiful art form that has captured the attention of some of the world’s greatest minds throughout history. And while teaching this subject isn’t always a breeze, using math quotes can help inspire your students to see the beauty in the numbers.

From Kurt Gödel to Carl Friedrich Gauss, some of the most famous geniuses of all time have shared wise words about math that remain relevant today. Adding these quotes to your instruction can help your students connect with the subject on a deeper level and maybe even spark a passion for math they never knew they had.

You can use these eight profound math quotes to inspire, motivate, and even humor your students.

Kurt Gödel — Human Mind

"Either mathematics is too big for the human mind, or the human mind is more than a machine." 
- Kurt Gödel

Kurt Gödel, a renowned mathematician, once claimed: “Either mathematics is too big for the human mind, or the human mind is more than a machine.” This thought-provoking statement posits an intriguing question- is the human mind truly capable of comprehending the vastness of mathematics?

Or, can our minds transcend the mechanical operations of a machine? Gödel’s words are a powerful reminder of the intricacies and complexities of mathematics and the limitations of the human mind to understand it fully. Perhaps, as we continue to explore the vast universe of numbers and equations, we will uncover the true potential of the human mind and unlock its limitless capabilities.

Source: Topoi : The Categorial Analysis of Logic (1979) by Robert Goldblatt, p. 13

Henri Poincaré — Purpose

“Mathematics has a threefold purpose. It must provide an instrument for the study of nature. But this is not all: it has a philosophical purpose, and, I daresay, an aesthetic purpose.” 
— Henri Poincaré

Henri Poincaré, a renowned mathematician, brilliantly captured the threefold purpose of mathematics in his quote, “Mathematics has a threefold purpose. It must provide an instrument for the study of nature. But this is not all: it has a philosophical purpose and, I daresay, an aesthetic purpose.”

As an instrument, mathematics helps us study and comprehend the complex workings of nature. The philosophical purpose lies in the ability of mathematics to help us understand fundamental concepts such as symmetry, infinity, and randomness. As for the aesthetic purpose, there is immense beauty in the simplicity and elegance of mathematical equations, proving that art can be found in even the most complex fields. Thus, mathematics has a multifaceted role in shaping our understanding of the world around us and enriching our lives in countless ways.

Source: La valeur de la science. In Anton Bovier, Statistical Mechanics of Disordered Systems (2006), 161.

Albert Einstein — Special Esteem

“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.” 
— A. Einstein

Albert Einstein, one of the greatest minds of our time, once said that mathematics enjoys a special place among all sciences because its laws are absolutely certain and cannot be debated. This statement, though provocative, holds a lot of truth.

Unlike other sciences, mathematics is not subject to interpretation or opinion. Its principles and axioms are fixed, and its facts can be proven rigorously. The discipline allows us to reach universal conclusions applicable across all fields of study.

Because mathematics is so reliable, it leaves little room for error, which is why it’s often used as the foundation for other sciences. Thus, with confidence that mathematics truly is the cornerstone of all knowledge.

Soruce: Einstein: Geometry and Experience, 27 January 1921

Georg Cantor — The Art of Proposing

“In mathematics the art of proposing a question must be held of higher value than solving it.” 
— Georg Cantor

Have you ever been asked a question that made you pause and really think about the answer? That’s the art of proposing a question, and according to mathematician Georg Cantor, it’s more valuable than the answer itself. In the world of mathematics, asking the right question is key to unlocking new discoveries and expanding our understanding of the universe.

Cantor believed that proposing thought-provoking questions was the foundation of mathematical creativity and innovation. Without asking the right questions, there would be no solutions to be found. So next time you’re working on a math problem, remember that the question you propose is just as important as the answer you seek.

Source: A thesis defended at Cantor’s doctoral examination

Galileo — The Language of the Universe

“In order to understand the universe, you must know the language in which it is written. And that language is mathematics.” 
— Galileo

Have you ever looked up at the stars at night and wondered about the mysteries of the universe? Galileo once said that in order to grasp the complexities of the cosmos truly, you must first understand its language, which he believed to be mathematics.

Mathematics may seem like a daunting task, but if Galileo’s insights have taught us anything, it’s that the universe is bound by mathematical laws that can be understood and even predicted. So, don’t shy away from numbers and equations because they are the key to unlocking the universe’s secrets. Embrace them, and you might discover something that inspires generations to come.

Source: The Math Gene: How Mathematical Thinking Evolved And Why Numbers Are Like Gossip Reprint Edition by Keith Devlin

Carl Friedrich Gauss — The Queen of the Sciences

“Mathematics is the queen of the sciences and number theory is the queen of mathematics.” 
— Carl Friedrich Gauss

Carl Friedrich Gauss, a renowned mathematician of his time, once proclaimed, “Mathematics is the queen of the sciences, and number theory is the queen of mathematics.” And he wasn’t wrong.

Number theory is one of the oldest branches of pure mathematics, solely devoted to the properties and behavior of numbers. It’s a fascinating field that delves into the innermost workings of numbers and their relations with each other.

Gauss’s love and expertise in number theory can be seen through the numerous equations and theorems he deduced in his lifetime. It’s quite clear why he believes that number theory is the queen of mathematics; without Number Theory, we wouldn’t have developed the analytical tools necessary for modern science and technology. The world would certainly be a different place without the contributions of this fascinating field.

Source: Long, Calvin T. (1972). Elementary Introduction to Number Theory

Lex Schrijver — Oxygen

“Mathematics is like oxygen. If it is there, you do not notice it. If it would not be there, you realize that you cannot do without.” 
— Lex Schrijver

Mathematics may seem like an obscure and esoteric subject to some, but its importance cannot be overstated. As Lex Schrijver famously quipped, mathematics is like oxygen. We take it for granted, assuming it will always be there, but we only realize how vital it is when it is no longer available.

Mathematics is the foundation of science, engineering, technology, finance and many other disciplines. From measuring ingredients to predicting the weather, we use mathematics every day. Without it, we would struggle to make sense of the world around us and our technological progress would grind to a halt. So the next time you are tempted to dismiss mathematics as irrelevant, remember that it is the lifeblood of modern society.

Source: Succesformules: Toepassingen van wiskunde

Freeman Dyson — The Marriage

“I am acutely aware of the fact that the marriage between mathematics and physics, which was so enormously fruitful in past centuries, has recently ended in divorce.” 
— Freeman Dyson

When Freeman Dyson remarked that the marriage between mathematics and physics had ended in divorce, he highlighted how the two fields, which were once intertwined, have drifted apart. Historically, physics advances have been propelled by the powerful tools of mathematics and vice versa.

However, in recent times, we have witnessed a gradual shift towards specialization in each field, with physics becoming more focused on experiments and observations and mathematics delving further into abstract concepts. Despite this, some physicists and mathematicians are still working to bring the two fields back together to unlock new mysteries of the universe.

Source: Missing Opportunities
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Ali

Math Teacher. Content Curator. Soccer player. Maradona fan. Mostly write about the lectures I love to learn better. alikayaspor@gmail.com