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11 Oct 19:41

Comic for October 10, 2021

25 Feb 17:53

A Quiz of Quotes

by rjlipton

Everything that can be invented has been invented—Charles Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

MathQuotes src

George Cantor has been featured here and here and here before on GLL. Of course, he invented modern set theory and changed math forever. His birthday is soon, so we thought we would talk about him now—he was born on March 3rd in 1845.

Today we thought it might be fun to have a quiz on math quotes.

Wait. Cantor did not invent quotation marks, nor is he known for many quotes. He does of course have many famous results, and they will live forever. But his results were subject to immediate horrible criticism and therefore memorable quotes.

Leopold Kronecker was a particular source of barbs. For example: “What good is your beautiful proof on the transcendence of {\pi}? Why investigate such problems, given that irrational numbers do not even exist?”

As a complexity theorist I must say that Kronecker has a point when he also said:

“Definitions must contain the means of reaching a decision in a finite number of steps, and existence proofs must be conducted so that the quantity in question can be calculated with any degree of accuracy.”

David Hilbert defended Cantor and said: “No one shall expel us from the paradise that Cantor has created.”

BBVA Open Mind src

Quotes Quiz

On to the quiz. Each quote is followed by two possible authors in alphabetical order. You should pick the one you think is correct. The players are:

1. Douglas Adams 2. Bernard Baruch 3. Eric Temple Bell 4. Raoul Bott
5. Paul Erdős 6. Richard Hamming 7. Godfrey Hardy 8. David Hilbert
9. Admiral Grace Hooper 10. Alan Kay 11. Donald Knuth 12. John von Neumann
13. Alan Perlis 14. Henri Poincaré 15. Srinivasa Ramanujan 16. Marcus du Sautoy
17. Raymond Smullyan 18. Alan Turing 19. Moshe Vardi 20. Andrew Wiles

  1. Those who can imagine anything, can create the impossible.
    —Kay {||} Turing

  2. I really didn’t foresee the Internet. But then, neither did the computer industry. Not that that tells us very much of course–the computer industry didn’t even foresee that the century was going to end.
    — Adams {||} Knuth

  3. One man’s constant is another man’s variable.
    —Perlis {||} du Sautoy

  4. The most damaging phrase in the language is: “It’s always been done that way.”
    —-Hopper {||} Perlis

  5. The best way to predict the future is to invent it.
    —Kay {||} Turing

  6. The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.
    Adams {||} Hamming

  7. Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it.
    —Knuth {||} Vardi

  8. No, it is a very interesting number, it is the smallest number expressible as a sum of two cubes in two different ways.
    —Bell {||} Ramanujan

  9. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.
    —Erdős {||} Hardy

  10. Mathematics is the art of giving the same name to different things.
    —Hooper {||} Poincaré

  11. There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.
    —Bott {||} von Neumann

  12. I hope we’ll be able to solve these problems before we leave.
    —Erdős {||} Perlis

  13. Some people are always critical of vague statements. I tend rather to be critical of precise statements; they are the only ones which can correctly be labeled ‘wrong’.
    —Knuth {||} Smullyan

  14. Everything that humans can do a machine can do.
    —Perlis {||} Vardi

  15. “Obvious” is the most dangerous word in mathematics.
    — Bell {||} Hooper

  16. Just because we can’t find a solution, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
    — Adams {||} Wiles

  17. Mathematics is a place where you can do things which you can’t do in the real world.
    — du Sautoy {||} Turing

  18. Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why.
    — Baruch {||} Hopper

  19. The definition of a good mathematical problem is the mathematics it generates rather than the problem itself.
    — Hilbert {||} Wiles

  20. There are two ways to do great mathematics. The first is to be smarter than everybody else. The second way is to be stupider than everybody else – but persistent.
    — Bott {||} Knuth

Open Problems

“I always have a quotation for everything—it saves original thinking.”
—Dorothy Sayers

Here are the answers:

08 Sep 22:53

Boathouses and Houseboats

The <x> that is held by <y> is also a <y><x>, so if you go to a food truck, the stuff you buy is truck food. A phone that's in your car is a carphone, and a car equipped with a phone is a phonecar. When you play a mobile racing game, you're in your phonecar using your carphone to drive a different phonecar. I'm still not sure about bananaphones.
26 Mar 17:38

Comic for March 25, 2018

16 Dec 20:35


I bet if I yell at my scared friends I will feel better.
18 Nov 19:20


If that doesn't fix it, git.txt contains the phone number of a friend of mine who understands git. Just wait through a few minutes of 'It's really pretty simple, just think of branches as...' and eventually you'll learn the commands that will fix everything.
18 Nov 19:01

Comic for November 11, 2015

13 May 19:35

Should a political party form a coalition? Voters and math decide

Mathematical ideas and tools are often used to describe aspects of large macroscopic systems. Examples abound in areas as varied as finance to psychology. In a paper published last month in the SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, author Fabio Bagarello proposes mathematical models to analyze political decision-making. Using a dynamical approach which accounts for interactions between political parties and their constituents, the model tries to deduce whether parties should form coalitions under various circumstances.
21 Feb 17:04

Comic for February 05, 2015

02 Jan 13:50


If the breaking news is about an event at a hospital or a lab, move it all the way over to the right.
24 Nov 17:06

Background Screens

No way, we gotta rewind and cross-reference this map with the list of coordinates we saw on the other screen. This Greenland thing could be big.
05 Aug 22:57

Comic for August 5, 2014

04 Mar 19:21

Comic for March 2, 2014

23 Jan 18:45

Comic for January 21, 2014

10 Jan 21:14


I hate when people take photos of their meal instead of eating it, because there's nothing I love more than the sound of other people chewing.
27 Nov 11:31

Git Commit

Merge branch 'asdfasjkfdlas/alkdjf' into sdkjfls-final