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French Mathematician Quotes
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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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This is what it behoves us to know: as Frenchmen, for the advantage of France; as friends of all humanity, by that just and generous sentiment which makes us feel interest in the dignity, the peace, the independence, the happiness of all nations, on whatever spot of the globe nature may have placed their country.
Charles Dupin
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I have always thought that morality in politics was something essential, just like feelings and affinities.
Laurent Schwartz
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In the machine for a new use of gunpowder, which is described in the 'Acta Eruditorum' for the month of September, 1688, the first desideratum was, that the gunpowder fired in the bottom of the tube AA should fill the whole cavity with flame, so that the air might be entirely expelled from it, and the tube remain a perfect vacuum beneath the piston BB. But there it was mentioned, that the desired effect could not be sufficiently attained... But hitherto such attempts have been in vain; and always, after the flame of the gunpowder is extinguished, about a fifth part of the air remains in the tube AA.
Denis Papin
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There is a certain way of searching for the truth in mathematics that Plato is said first to have discovered; Theon named it analysis, and defined it as the assumption of that which is sought as if it were admitted and working through its consequences to what is admitted to be true. This is opposed to synthesis, which is the assuming what is admitted and working through its consequences to arrive at and to understand that which is sought.
François Viète
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And thus in all cases it will be found, that although Chance produces irregularities, still the Odds will be infinitely great, that in process of Time, those Irregularities will bear no proportion to the recurrency of that Order which naturally results from Original Design.
Abraham de Moivre
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If paparazzi specialized in mathematical celebrities they'd camp outside the dining hall at the IAS and come away with a new batch of pictures every day.
Cédric Villani
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If we know anything we know it by mathematics; but those people have no concern for the true and legitimate science of things! they cling to trivialities!
Pierre Gassendi
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It is important for him who wants to discover not to confine himself to one chapter of science, but to keep in touch with various others.
Jacques Hadamard
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We can take pride in the fact that there is no science as certain as ours [alchemy] because it teaches by experience which is the mother, the source and the universal cause of all knowledge: and it is for the lack of this that Aristotle and the other philosophers have wondrously failed in their philosophy.
Marin Mersenne
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My optimistic enthusiasm about the disinterested search for truth has been severely shaken..
Émile Borel
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The doctrines of pure geometry often, and in many questions, give a simple and natural way to penetrate to the origin of truths, to lay bare the mysterious chain which unites them, and to make them known individually, luminously and completely.
Michel Chasles
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I cannot tell you the efforts to which I was condemned to understand something of the diagrams of Descriptive Geometry, which I detest.
Charles Hermite
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Everything considered, mathematicians should have the courage of their most profound convictions and thus affirm that mathematical forms indeed have an existence that is independent of the mind considering them.... Yet, at any given moment, mathematicians have only an incomplete and fragmentary view of this world of ideas.
René Thom
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Logic is invincible because in order to combat logic it is necessary to use logic.
Pierre Boutroux
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Ere long mathematics will be as useful to the chemist as the balance.
Marcel-Paul Schützenberger
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Invention, strictly speaking, is little more than a new combination of those images which have been previously gathered and deposited in the memory: nothing can come of nothing.
Joshua Reynolds
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