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French Mathematician Quotes
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Sneezing absorbs all the functions of the soul just as much as the [sexual] act, but we do not draw from it the same conclusions against the greatness of man, because it is involuntary; although we bring it about, we do so involuntarily. It is not for the sake of the thing in itself but for another end, and is therefore not a sign of man's weakness, or his subjection to this act.
Blaise Pascal
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Those periods of history when phenomena previously thought to be due to totally diverse causes have been reduced to a single principle were almost always accompanied by the discovery of many new facts, because a new approach in the conception of causes suggests a multitude of new experiments to try and explanations to verify.
André-Marie Ampère
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The mathematics have been in all ages the implacable adversaries of scientific romances.
François Arago
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What is familiar to professional scientists highly needs to be placed in the public domain.
Jacques Babinet
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I had become interested in economics, an interest that was transformed into a lifetime dedication when I met with the mathematical theory of general economic equilibrium.
Gérard Debreu
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On foundations we believe in the reality of mathematics, but of course when philosophers attack us with their paradoxes we rush to hide behind formalism and say: "Mathematics is just a combination of meaningless symbols..."
Jean Dieudonné
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Chaos cuts with two edges. We have seen how it is impossible to retrieve past history from current observations. We will now show that it is impossible to predict future states from the current observations.
Ivar Ekeland
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We have found a beautiful and most general proposition, namely, that every integer is either a square, or the sum of two, three or at most four squares. This theorem depends on some of the most recondite mysteries of number, and is not possible to present its proof on the margin of this page.
Pierre de Fermat
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A very extensive class of phenomena exists, not produced by mechanical forces, but resulting simply from the presence and accumulation of heat. This part of natural philosophy cannot be connected with dynamical theories, it has principles peculiar to itself, and is founded on a method similar to that of other exact sciences.
Joseph Fourier
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[Mathematics] is the work of the human mind, which is destined rather to study than to know, to seek the truth rather than to find it.
Évariste Galois
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In general, nothing measurable can be measured except by fractions expressing the result of the measurement, unless the measure be contained an exact number of times in the thing to be measured.
Joseph Louis Lagrange
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Axiomatization is what one does last, it's rubbish. It's the hygiene of mathematics, axiomatization.
Serge Lang
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It is to the influence of the opinion of those whom the multitude judges best informed and to whom it has been accustomed to give its confidence in regard to the most important matters of life that the propagation of those errors [pertaining to errors of truth] is due which in times of ignorance have covered the face of the earth.
Pierre-Simon Laplace
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Kepler... thought it but reasonable, that as the sea has its whales and monsters, the air should have them likewise. These monsters are Comets...
Pierre Louis Maupertuis
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Mathematicks therefore is a Science which teaches or contemplates whatever is capable of Measure or Number as such. When it relates to Number, it is called Arithmetick; but when to measure, as Length, Breadth, Depth, Degrees of Velocity in Motion, Intenseness or Remissness of Sounds, Augmentation or Diminution of Quality, 6tc. it is called Geometry.
Jacques Ozanam
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In repeating an argument that I have learned, I could readily have discovered it myself: or rather, even if this is an illusion, if I were not clever enough to have created it myself, I rediscover it myself, to the extent that I repeat it.
Henri Poincaré
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If anyone asked me to define time, I should reply: "Do you know what it is that you speak of?" If he said "Yes," I should answer, "Very well, let us talk about it." If he said "No," I should answer, "Very well, let us talk about something else."
Louis Poinsot
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The engineer should receive a complete mathematical education, but for what should it serve him? To see the different aspects of things and to see them quickly; he has no time to hunt mice.
Siméon Denis Poisson
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When a branch of mathematics ceases to interest any but the specialists, it is very near its death, or at any rate dangerously close to paralysis, from which it can be rescued only by being plunged back into the vivifying source of the science.
André Weil
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Anyone who understands algebraic notation, reads at a glance in an equation results reached arithmetically only with great labour and pains.
Antoine Augustin Cournot
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No one ever squared the circle with so much genius, or, excepting his principal object, with so much success.
Jean-Étienne Montucla
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Residues arise … naturally in several branches of analysis …. Their consideration provides simple and easy-to-use methods, which are applicable to a large number of diverse questions, and some new results ….
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
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The infinitely small neither have nor can have theory; it is a dangerous instrument in the hands of beginners [...] anticipating, for my part, the judgement of posterity, I would dare predict that this method will be accused one day, and rightly, of having retarded the progress of the mathematical sciences.
Francois-Joseph Servois
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He who shall wish to disentangle this proposition will easily be able to compose a volume.
Girard Desargues
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Papers should include more side remarks, open questions, and such. Very often, these are more interesting than the theorems actually proved. Alas, most people are afraid to admit that they don't know the answer to some question, and as a consequence they refrain from mentioning the question, even if it is a very natural one. What a pity! As for myself, I enjoy saying 'I do not know'.
Jean-Pierre Serre
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