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Gian-Carlo Rota Quotes
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Philosophers and psychiatrists should explain why it is that we mathematicians are in the habit of systematically erasing our footsteps. Scientists have always looked askance at this strange habit of mathematicians, which has changed little from Pythagoras to our day.
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THE COMPUTER IS JUST AN INSTRUMENT for doing faster what we already know how to do slower. All pretensions to computer intelligence and paradise-tomorrow promises should be toned down before the public turns away in disgust. And if that should happen, our civilization might not survive.
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The pendulum of mathematics swings back and forth towards abstraction and away from it with a timing that remains to be estimated.
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The lack of real contact between mathematics and biology is either a tragedy, a scandal or a challenge, it is hard to decide which.
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We take offense at those truths that threaten any of the myths we profess to believe in. Taking offense is an effective way we have of shutting off some unpleasant truth. It works. It enables us to restore a hold on our dearest myths, to last until the next offending myth comes along.
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The snobbish symbol-dropping found nowadays in philosophical papers raises eyebrows among mathematicians, like someone paying his grocery bill with Monopoly money.
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Group theory, like lattice theory, is the whipping boy of mathematicians in need of concealing their feelings of insecurity.
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Every field has its taboos. In algebraic geometry the taboos are (1) writing a draft that can be followed by anyone but two or three of one's closest friends, (2) claiming that a result has applications, (3) mentioning the word 'combinatorial,' and (4) claiming that algebraic geometry existed before Grothendieck (only some handwaving references to 'the Italians' are allowed provided they are not supported by specific references).
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Not only is every mathematical problem solved, but eventually every mathematical problem is proved trivial. The quest for ultimate triviality is characteristic of the mathematical enterprise.
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Of all escapes from reality, mathematics is the most successful ever.
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Books on paradoxes in statistics are similar to mystery books. They have a faithful readership, and they follow a rigorous sequence in their presentation, like Greek tragedies.
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Mathematics is the study of analogies between analogies. All science is. Scientists want to show that things that don't look alike are really the same. That is one of their innermost Freudian motivations. In fact, that is what we mean by understanding.
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There is nothing deadlier for a mathematician than to be placed in a beautiful office and instructed to lay golden eggs.
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Mathematics is a cruel profession. Solving a mathematical problem is for most mathematicians an arduous and lengthy process which may take years, even a lifetime. The final conquest of the truth comes, if ever, inevitably tinged with disillusion, soured by the realization of the ultimate irrelevance of all intellectual endeavor.
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Once you learn the concept of a differential equation, you see differential equations all over, no matter what you do.
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Very little mathematics has direct applications - though fortunately most of it has plenty of indirect ones.
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Running overtime is the one unforgivable error a lecturer can make. After fifty minutes (one microcentury as von Neumann used to say) everybody's attention will turn elsewhere.
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Biologists seldom have the mathematical view that is required to spot problems in the mathematics of biology that are staring at them. A biologist will never see anything deeper than binomial coefficients. It is not that the problems aren't there; rather, biologists don't have the view that comes with a solid education in mathematics.
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The apex of mathematical achievement occurs when two or more fields which were thought to be entirely unrelated turn out to be closely intertwined. Mathematicians have never decided whether they should feel excited or upset by such events.
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Making mathematics accessible to the educated layman, while keeping high scientific standards, has always been considered a treacherous navigation between the Scylla of professional contempt and the Charybdis of public misunderstanding.
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The progress of mathematics can be viewed as progress from the infinite to the finite.
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The distance between probability and statistical mechanics is diminishing, and soon we won't be able to tell which is which. We will be rid of the handwaving arguments with which mathematically illiterate physicists have been pestering us.
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Mathematical logic deals not with the truth but only with the game of truth.
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Quantum mechanics is the imaginary square root of probability theory.
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A good teacher does not teach facts, he or she teaches enthusiasm, open-mindedness and values...
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Quote of the day
A great deal of talent is lost to the world for the want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves a number of obscure men who have only remained obscure because their timidity has prevented them from making a first effort.
Sydney Smith
Gian-Carlo Rota
Creative Commons
Born:
April 27, 1932
Died:
April 18, 1999
(aged 66)
Bio:
Gian-Carlo Rota was an Italian-born American mathematician and philosopher.
Known for:
Indiscrete thoughts (1997)
Gian-Carlo Rota on combinatorics (1995)
Ordinary Differential Equations (1962)
Introduction to Geometric Probability (1997)
Finite operator calculus (1975)
Gian-Carlo Rota on Wikipedia
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