What is Mathematics?

Different people would gave different answers of the above title. A student in elementary school would probably say it was about adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Oh yes— about functions and decimals too. A student in high school would probably say that it is about learning rules and formulas to solve equations. Oh yes— and learning rules and formulas in geometry too. I am afraid that all too many students of calculus would also say that mathematic is about rules and formulas and impossible word problems and getting the right answers by right method. Then, since most people lose contact with mathematics after high school or after calculus, the average citizen keep a limited view of mathematic for a life time. That is too bad because answers are not complete and we should not carry around in our heads any more delusions or distorted views of reality than we have to. Now I gave some definitions of mathematics by some renowned persons:

Galileo Galilei said “The universe cannot be read until we have learned the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language and letters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which means it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word. Without these, one is wandering about in a dark labyrinth.”

In Oxford English Dictionary 2000 “Mathematics is defined as the study of measurement, properties and relationships of quantities and sets using numbers and symbols.”

Albert Einstein stated that “as far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”

Now I present some quotations about mathematics:

Carl Friedrich Gauss referred to mathematics as “The Queen of sciences.” Charles Darwin said “Mathematics is a study of finding a black cat in a dark room which is not there.”

Dean Schlicter said “Go down enough into anything and you will find mathematics.” G.K Chesterton said “The different between the poem and mathematician is that the poet tries to put his head into haven while the mathematician tries to get the haven into his head.”

David Hilbert said “Mathematics knows no races or geographic boundaries; for mathematics, the cultural world is one country.”

Sir Isaac Newton said “They latest author, like the most ancient, strove to subordinate the phenomena of nature to laws of mathematics.”

C.S Lewis said “I could never gone far in any science because on the path of every science the lion mathematics lies in wait for you.”

Written by: — MMAF10M037, MMAF11M047, MMAF11E126 2013/04/19 01:03


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