It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment.— Carl Friedrich Gauss
The most staggering Carl Friedrich Gauss quotes you will be delighted to read
Life stands before me like an eternal spring with new and brilliant clothes.
You know that I write slowly. This is chiefly because I am never satisfied until I have said as much as possible in a few words, and writing briefly takes far more time than writing at length.
Mathematics is the queen of sciences and number theory is the queen of mathematics. She often condescends to render service to astronomy and other natural sciences, but in all relations she is entitled to the first rank.
Theory attracts practice as the magnet attracts iron.
There have been only three epoch-making mathematicians, Archimedes, Newton, and Eisenstein.
Mathematicians stand on each other's shoulders.
If others would but reflect on mathematical truths as deeply and as continuously as I have, they would make my discoveries.
I have had my results for a long time: but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them.
I mean the word proof not in the sense of the lawyers, who set two half proofs equal to a whole one, but in the sense of a mathematician, where half proof = 0, and it is demanded for proof that every doubt becomes impossible.
The problem of distinguishing prime numbers from composite numbers and of resolving the latter into their prime factors is known to be one of the most important and useful in arithmetic.
The enchanting charms of this sublime science reveal only to those who have the courage to go deeply into it.
Ask her to wait a moment - I am almost done.
When I have clarified and exhausted a subject, then I turn away from it, in order to go into darkness again.
Mathematics is the queen of science, and arithmetic the queen of mathematics.
Mathematical discoveries, like springtime violets in the woods, have their season which no human can hasten or retard.
Finally, two days ago, I succeeded - not on account of my hard efforts, but by the grace of the Lord. Like a sudden flash of lightning, the riddle was solved. I am unable to say what was the conducting thread that connected what I previously knew with what made my success possible.
It may be true, that men, who are mere mathematicians, have certain specific shortcomings, but that is not the fault of mathematics, for it is equally true of every other exclusive occupation.
Further, the dignity of the science itself seems to require that every possible means be explored for the solution of a problem so elegant and so celebrated.
No contradictions will arise as long as Finite Man does not mistake the infinite for something fixed, as long as he is not led by an acquired habit of mind to regard the infinite as something bounded.
To praise it would amount to praising myself.
For the entire content of the work... coincides almost exactly with my own meditations which have occupied my mind for the past thirty or thirty-five years.
Less depends upon the choice of words than upon this, that their introduction shall be justified by pregnant theorems.
Arc, amplitude, and curvature sustain a similar relation to each other as time, motion, and velocity, or as volume, mass, and density.
Sophie Germain proved to the world that even a woman can accomplish something in the most rigorous and abstract of sciences and for that reason would well have deserved an honorary degree.
I am coming more and more to the conviction that the necessity of our geometry cannot be demonstrated, at least neither by, nor for, the human intellect. . . Geometry should be ranked, not with arithmetic, which is purely aprioristic, but with mechanics.
By explanation the scientist understands nothing except the reduction to the least and simplest basic laws possible, beyond which he cannot go, but must plainly demand them; from them however he deduces the phenomena absolutely completely as necessary.
In the last two months I have been very busy with my own mathematical speculations, which have cost me much time, without my having reached my original goal. Again and again I was enticed by the frequently interesting prospects from one direction to the other, sometimes even by will-o'-the-wisps, as is not rare in mathematic speculations.
...as our friend Zach has often noted, in our days those who do the best for astronomy are not the salaried university professors, but so-called dillettanti, physicians, jurists, and so forth.Lamenting the fragmentary time left to a professor has remaining after fulfilling his teaching duties.
There are problems to whose solution I would attach an infinitely greater importance than to those of mathematics, for example touching ethics, or our relation to God, or concerning our destiny and our future; but their solution lies wholly beyond us and completely outside the province of science.
To such idle talk it might further be added: that whenever a certain exclusive occupation is coupled with specific shortcomings, it is likewise almost certainly divorced from certain other shortcomings.
His second motto: Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy laws my services are bound.
My young friend, I wish that science would intoxicate you as much as our good Göttingen beer! Upon seeing a student staggering down a street.
Sin2 φ is odious to me, even though Laplace made use of it;
should it be feared that sin2 φ might become ambiguous, which would perhaps never occur, or at most very rarely when speaking of sin(φ2), well then, let us write (sin φ)2, but not sin2 φ, which by analogy should signify sin (sin φ)
With a thousand joys I would accept a nonacademic job for which industriousness, accuracy, loyalty, and such are sufficient without specialized knowledge, and which would give a comfortable living and sufficient leisure, in order to sacrifice to my gods [mathematical research]. For example, I hope to get the editting of the census, the birth and death lists in local districts, not as a job, but for my pleasure and satisfaction.
[On Sophie Germain] When a person of the sex which, according to our customs and prejudices, must encounter infinitely more difficulties than men... succeeds nevertheless in surmounting these obstacles and penetrating the most obscure parts of [number theory], then without doubt she must have the noblest courage, quite extraordinary talents and superior genius.
The Infinite is only a manner of speaking.
God does arithmetic.
I am giving this winter two courses of lectures to three students, of which one is only moderately prepared, the other less than moderately, and the third lacks both preparation and ability. Such are the onera of a mathematical profession.
I have the vagary of taking a lively interest in mathematical subjects only where I may anticipate ingenious association of ideas and results recommending themselves by elegance or generality.
We must admit with humility that, while number is purely a product of our minds, space has a reality outside our minds, so that we cannot completely prescribe its properties a priori.
The total number of Dirichlet's publications is not large: jewels are not weighed on a grocery scale.
I protest against the use of infinite magnitude ..., which is never permissible in mathematics.
That this subject [of imaginary magnitudes] has hitherto been considered from the wrong point of view and surrounded by a mysterious obscurity, is to be attributed largely to an ill-adapted notation. If, for example, +1, -1, and the square root of -1 had been called direct, inverse and lateral units, instead of positive, negative and imaginary (or even impossible), such an obscurity would have been out of the question.
A great part of its theories derives an additional charm from the peculiarity that important propositions, with the impress of simplicity on them, are often easily discovered by induction, and yet are of so profound a character that we cannot find the demonstrations till after many vain attempts; and even then, when we do succeed, it is often by some tedious and artificial process, while the simple methods may long remain concealed.
In my opinion instruction is very purposeless for such individuals who do no want merely to collect a mass of knowledge, but are mainly interested in exercising (training) their own powers. One doesn't need to grasp such a one by the hand and lead him to the goal, but only from time to time give him suggestions, in order that he may reach it himself in the shortest way.
Does the pursuit of truth give you as much pleasure as before? Surely it is not the knowing but the learning, not the possessing but the acquiring, not the being-there but the getting there that afford the greatest satisfaction. If I have exhausted something, I leave it in order to go again into the dark. Thus is that insatiable man so strange: when he has completed a structure it is not in order to dwell in it comfortably, but to start another.
Mathematics is concerned only with the enumeration and comparison of relations.
I believe you are more believing in the Bible than I. I am not, and, you are much happier than I.
I confess that Fermat's Theorem as an isolated proposition has very little interest for me, because I could easily lay down a multitude of such propositions, which one could neither prove nor dispose of.
The higher arithmetic presents us with an inexhaustible store of interesting truths - of truths, too, which are not isolated, but stand in a close internal connection, and between which, as our knowledge increases, we are continually discovering new and sometimes wholly unexpected ties.