Most of these quotes have been stolen from different online resources. Some of them are from conversations I had or overheard. A tiny fraction of them are mine.

“The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.” – W. Somerset Maugham

  • “As I have told you, theory is very good indeed, but how are we to carry it into practice? If it be absolutely impracticable, no theory is of any value whatever, except as intellectual gymnastics.” - Swami Vivekananda in his Practical Vedanta

  • “Goodbye Theory! Hello, Data and Computing”.

  • Andy Roberts (around 36-37 minutes into the documentary Fire in Babylon), when asked if he felt right on him and Michael Holding terrorizing and hitting the English batsmen with their bowling on 1976 England tour. “I always feel when I hit a batsman. The sympathy is in here (pointing to his heart); You may not see it and I cannot show the batsman that. It is just that I have a job to do.”

  • “I felt that chess… is a science in the form of a game… I consider myself a scientist. I wanted to be treated like a scientist.” – Fischer

  • What do we mean by “understanding” something? We can imagine that this complicated array of moving things which constitutes “the world” is something like a great chess game being played by the gods, and we are observers of the game. We do not know what the rules of the game are; all we are allowed to do is to watch the playing. Of course, if we watch long enough, we may eventually catch on to a few of the rules. The rules of the game are what we mean by fundamental physics. Even if we knew every rule, however, we might not be able to understand why a particular move is made in the game, merely because it is too complicated and our minds are limited. If you play chess you must know that it is easy to learn all the rules, and yet it is often very hard to select the best move or to understand why a player moves as he does. So it is in nature, only much more so; but we may be able at least to find all the rules. Actually, we do not have all the rules now. (Every once in a while something like castling is going on that we still do not understand.) Aside from not knowing all of the rules, what we really can explain in terms of those rules is very limited, because almost all situations are so enormously complicated that we cannot follow the plays of the game using the rules, much less tell what is going to happen next. We must, therefore, limit ourselves to the more basic question of the rules of the game. If we know the rules, we consider that we “understand” the world.

        How can we tell whether the rules which we “guess” at are really right if we cannot analyze the game very well? There are, roughly speaking, three ways. First, there may be situations where nature has arranged, or we arrange nature, to be simple and to have so few parts that we can predict exactly what will happen, and thus we can check how our rules work. (In one corner of the board there may be only a few chess pieces at work, and that we can figure out exactly.)

        A second good way to check rules is in terms of less specific rules derived from them. For example, the rule on the move of a bishop on a chessboard is that it moves only on the diagonal. One can deduce, no matter how many moves may be made, that a certain bishop will always be on a red square. So, without being able to follow the details, we can always check our idea about the bishop’s motion by finding out whether it is always on a red square. Of course it will be, for a long time, until all of a sudden we find that it is on a black square (what happened of course, is that in the meantime it was captured, another pawn crossed for queening, and it turned into a bishop on a black square). That is the way it is in physics. For a long time we will have a rule that works excellently in an over-all way, even when we cannot follow the details, and then some time we may discover a new rule. From the point of view of basic physics, the most interesting phenomena are of course in the new places, the places where the rules do not work—not the places where they do work! That is the way in which we discover new rules.

        The third way to tell whether our ideas are right is relatively crude but probably the most powerful of them all. That is, by rough approximation. While we may not be able to tell why Alekhine moves this particular piece, perhaps we can roughly understand that he is gathering his pieces around the king to protect it, more or less, since that is the sensible thing to do in the circumstances. In the same way, we can often understand nature, more or less, without being able to see what every little piece is doing, in terms of our understanding of the game.

– Feynmann in Feynmann lectures, Volume 1, Chapter 2, Section 1

  • Mikhail Tal’s first wife, Salli Landau, described Mikhail’s personality:

“Misha was so ill-equipped for living… When he travelled to a tournament, he couldn’t even pack his own suitcase… He didn’t even know how to turn on the gas for cooking. If I had a headache, and there happened to be no one home but him, he would fall into a panic: “How do I make a hot-water bottle?” And when I got behind the wheel of a car, he would look at me as though I were a visitor from another planet. Of course, if he had made some effort, he could have learned all of this. But it was all boring to him. He just didn’t need to. A lot of people have said that if Tal had looked after his health, if he hadn’t led such a dissolute life… and so forth. But with people like Tal, the idea of “if only” is just absurd. He wouldn’t have been Tal then.”

  • “Immense Harm Is Caused by the Belief That Work Is Virtuous.” – Bertrand Russell in his essay In praise of Idleness

  • “Education, in the truest self of the term, is a process of self-discovery. It is the art of self-sculpture. It trains the individual not so much in specific skills or in specific branch of knowledge, but in the flowering of his or her latent intellectual, artistic and humanist capacities. The test of education is whether it imparts an urge for learning and learnability, not this or that particular set of information.” – Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in his inaugural speech of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the University Grants Commission

  • “Real humor contains more inner truth than the most earnest seriousness.” – Nimzowitsch in his book `My system’.

  • “Tactics flow from a superior position” – Fischer

  • Nimzowitsch opponent took out a cigarette case and put on the chess table. Nimsowitsch hated cigarette smoke and called the director and filed a complaint.

The director said, “He has not lit a cigarette and there is no smoke. So your complaint is noted but it is not valid.”

to which Nimzowitsch replied, “but he threatens to smoke, and being an older player you know that the threat is often stronger than the execution.”

  • “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” – Allen Grant (though often it is attributed to Mark Twain)

  • “Only the meek, weak and poor keep talking about fairness, justice and equality.” – Krishnamurti Ramanathan Iyer

  • “Meeting is where minutes are kept and hours are lost”

  • “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” – Oscar Wilde

  • “I could not become anything; neither good nor bad; neither a scoundrel nor an honest man; neither a hero nor an insect. And now I am eking out my days in my corner, taunting myself with the bitter and entirely useless consolation that an intelligent man cannot seriously become anything, that only a fool can become something.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky

  • “Tell them that there is nothing to understand.” – U. G. Krishnamurti

  • “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations.” – Mark Twain

  • “But what do you do when a department [in a university] goes bad? André Weil suggested that there is a logarithmic law at work: first-rate people attract other first-rate people, but second-rate people tend to hire third-raters, and third-rate people hire fifth-raters. If a dean or a president is genuinely interested in building and maintaining a high-quality university (and some of them are), then he must not grant complete self-determination to a second-rate department; he must, instead, use his administrative powers to intervene and set things right. That’s one of the proper functions of deans and presidents, and pity the poor university in which a large proportion of both the faculty and the administration are second-raters; it is doomed to diverge to minus infinity.” – French mathematician André Weil once mentioned to Paul Halmos an unconscious formula that weaker academic departments used when hiring new faculty.

  • “The pleasure in the pursuit of useless research is amplified by the fact that it cannot be put to misuse.” – Self

  • “The pen is mightier than the sword only when people are willing to read/listen. The sword, hence, still has its relevance.” – Self

  • “Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought” – Albert Szent-Györgyi

  • “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw

  • Six ethics of life
    Before you pray: believe
    Before you speak: listen
    Before you spend: earn
    Before you write: think
    Before you quit: try
    Before you die: live
    – Unknown author

  • “It is better to be not successful in things you find interesting than being successful in things you do not find interesting.”

  • “In mathematics, not just number theory alone, in general and probably in science as a whole what you have learn is you have to learn how to use the tools and if you just know one tool and you really know how to use it you can probably make a career out of it.” – Maruti Ram Pedaprolu Murty, while talking about Abel’s partial summation technique as part of Analytical Number Theory short course at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, India

  • “To do high, real good physics work you do need absolutely solid lengths of time, so that when you’re putting ideas together which are vague and hard to remember, it’s very much like building a house of cards and each of the cards is shaky, and if you forget one of them the whole thing collapses again. You don’t know how you got there and you have to build them up again, and if you’re interrupted and kind of forget half the idea of how the cards went together—your cards being different-type parts of the ideas, ideas of different kinds that have to go together to build up the idea—the main point is, you put the stuff together, it’s quite a tower and it’s easy [for it] to slip, it needs a lot of concentration—that is, solid time to think—and if you’ve got a job in administrating anything like that, then you don’t have the solid time.” So I have invented another myth for myself—that I’m irresponsible. I tell everybody, I don’t do anything. If anybody asks me to be on a committee to take care of admissions, no, I’m irresponsible, I don’t give a damn about the students—of course I give a damn about the students but I know that somebody else’ll do it—and I take the view, “Let George do it,” a view which you’re not supposed to take, okay, because that’s not right to do, but I do that because I like to do physics and I want to see if I can still do it, and so I’m selfish, okay?” – Richard Feynman

  • “A good computation is the one that does the least computation to obtain the right answer.” – Self

  • “It is more worthy to believe in good people than in God.” – Self

  • “Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized.” – Albert Einstein

  • “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity.” – Rollo May

  • “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” – Albert Einstein

  • “We are drowning in data but starving for knowledge”.

  • “Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. Data, data, everywhere, No one knows a thing.”

  • “In God we trust, rest bring data” – W. Edwards Deming

  • “If it goes from the east, it is superstition. If it comes from the west, it is science.”

  • “If you are not showing love to the humans you see around, how will you ever be able to show love to the God whom you cannot see?” – Chennai traffic cop, Kumar

  • “Physics isn’t the most important thing. Love is.” – Richard Feynman

  • “The mountain and the squirrel
    Had a quarrel,
    And the former called the latter,
    “little prig”:
    Bun replied,
    You are doubtless very big,
    But all sorts of things and weather
    Must be taken in together
    To make up a year,
    And a sphere.
    And I think it no disgrace
    To occupy my place.
    If I’m not so large as you,
    You are not so small as I,
    And not half so spry:
    I’ll not deny you make
    A very pretty squirrel track;
    Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
    If I cannot carry forests on my back,
    Neither can you crack a nut.”
    – From “Fable” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

  • “The ultimate goal of mathematics is to eliminate any need for intelligent thought.” – Alfred N. Whitehead

  • “The highest forms of understanding we can achieve are laughter and human compassion.” – Richard Feynman

  • “The heart of mathematics consists of concrete examples and concrete problems. Big general theories are usually afterthoughts based on small but profound insights; the insights themselves come from concrete special cases.” – Paul Halmos

  • “People do acquire a little brief authority by equipping themselves with jargon: they can pontificate and air a superficial expertise. But what we should ask of educated mathematicians is not what they can speechify about, nor even what they know about the existing corpus of mathematical knowledge, but rather what can they do with their learning and whether they can actually solve mathematical problems arising in practice. In short, we look for deeds not words.” – J. Hammersley

  • “The art is more important than the artist.” – Self

  • “If you find that you’re spending almost all your time on theory, start turning some attention to practical things; it will improve your theories. If you find that you’re spending almost all your time on practice, start turning some attention to theoretical things; it will improve your practice.” – Donald Knuth

  • “I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.” – Richard Feynman

  • “A mathematical formula should never be “owned” by anybody! Mathematics belong to God.” – Donald Knuth

  • “Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else we do. During the past several years an important part of mathematics has been transformed from an Art to a Science.” – Donald Knuth in the foreword of the book A=B

  • “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” – Attributed to Richard Branson

  • “Ask not what your country can do for you; Ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address

  • “I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you should know something about it, but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind. It may be the beginning of knowledge but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the state of science.” – William Thomson

  • “You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It’s their mistake, not my failing.” – Richard Feynman

  • “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.”

  • “Science and technology are great, but nothing beats fun.”

  • “Science and technology are great, but nothing beats love and care.” – Self

  • “If Euler were alive today, he wouldn’t be proving existence theorems.” – Nick Trefethen in his book Numerical Linear Algebra. Trefethen missed out another sentence, which should read as “He would rather be constructing solutions or showing non-existence.” – My addition; I have deliberately used the word showing instead of proving, since some of Euler’s “proofs” may not meet the rigorous criteria of proof as defined by modern mathematics.

  • “The culmination of mathematical understanding of a problem is the ability to compute the right solution (to a desired accuracy) and the ability to plot & visualize it. If you are unable to solve a problem, you haven’t understood the problem.” – Self

  • “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind …” – Gordon Gekko

  • “…at the present time I seem to be thinking rationally again in the style that is characteristic of scientists. However, this is not entirely a matter of joy as if someone returned from physical disability to good physical health. One aspect of this is that rationality of thought imposes a limit on a person’s concept of his relation to the cosmos.” – from the autobiography of John Nash

  • “Don’t care what you do through the game. Just make sure you win the last point.” – Pete Sampras’ coach to Pete

  • “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

  • “There is enough for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed” – M K Gandhi

  • கூவுகின்ற குயிலை கூட்டிற்குள் வைத்து
    பாடென்று சொன்னால் பாடாதம்மா
    சோலைமயில் தன்னை சிறைவைத்து பூட்டி
    ஆடென்று சொன்னால் ஆடாதம்மா

  • From Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28
    ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय । तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय । मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय । ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
    “Om Asatho maa sadhgamaya
    Tamaso maa jyothirgamaya
    mruthyoma amrutham gamaya
    Om shanthi shanthi shanthi”
    “Om Lead us unreal to real
    Lead us from darkness to light
    Lead us from death to immortality
    Om peace peace peace”

  • “Weak people take revenge; Strong people forgive; Intelligent people ignore”

  • “A person who forgives is a great human being; A person who seeks for forgiveness is an even greater human being”

  • “The venue of the meeting is as important as the content of the meeting” – Overheard at Duffield atrium at Cornell University

  • “…one needs neither infinitesimals, nor Cauchy-Weierstrass style limits, to have both a rigorous and pleasant foundation for the calculus needed in science and engineering. Make everything discrete and finite! At the end of the day, all today’s calculations are done, via modern number-crunching, by discretizing so-called differential equations, ultimately solving huge (but finite) systems of linear equations, part of discrete math! So a much more pleasant, and (as it turns out, much more rigorous, not that I care) approach, is to assume that the universe has a tiny, yet `strictly positive’ ‘indivisible’, and numerical analysis consists of approximating the true finite difference equations by ones of a much coarser grid.” – Doron Zeilberger

  • “Any clod can have the facts, but having opinions is an art.” – Charles McCabe

  • “There are no facts, only interpretations” – Friedrich Nietzsche

  • Bumblebees cannot fly if we (including the bumblebees) were living in a linear world!” – Koushik Balasubramanian.

  • “A computation is a temptation that should be resisted as long as possible.” – J. P. Boyd, paraphrasing T. S. Eliot.

  • “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” – Blaise Pascal

  • “Gentle hypocrisy is the salt of civilized society.” – Krishnamurti Ramanathan Iyer

  • “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein

  • “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon

  • “All that is gold does not glitter,
    Not all those who wander are lost;
    The old that is strong does not wither,
    Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
    From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
    A light from the shadows shall spring;
    Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
    The crownless again shall be king.”
    –John Ronald Reuel Tolkien

  • “The mathematician is entirely free, within the limits of his imagination, to construct what worlds he pleases. What he is to imagine is a matter for his own caprice he is not thereby discovering the fundamental principles of the universe nor becoming acquainted with the ideas of God. If he can find, in experience, sets of entities which obey the same logical scheme as his mathematical entities, then he has applied his mathematics to the external world he has created a branch of science.” – John William Navin Sullivan

  • “Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer. Mais toute la nature nous crie qu’il existe; qu’il y a une intelligence suprême, un pouvoir immense, un ordre admirable, et tout nous instruit de notre dépendance. (If God did not exist, he would have to be invented. But all nature cries aloud that he does exist: that there is a supreme intelligence, an immense power, an admirable order, and everything teaches us our own dependence on it.) – François-Marie Arouet(Voltaire)

  • “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

  • “If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is.” - John von Neumann

  • “Common sense consists of those layers of prejudice laid down in the mind before the age of eighteen” – Albert Einstein

  • “Life is good for only two things, discovering mathematics and teaching mathematics” – Siméon Poisson

  • In his autobiography, Bertrand Russell recalls the crisis of his youth: “There was a footpath leading across the fields to New Southgate, and I used to go there alone to watch the sunset and contemplate suicide. I did not, however, commit suicide, because I wished to know more of mathematics”

  • “Details are all that matters: God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don’t struggle to get them right.” – Stephen Jay Gould

  • “Many of the greatest achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working”

  • “It is not the knowledge but the learning, not the possessing but the earning, not the being there but getting there, which gives us the greatest pleasure” – Carl Friedrich Gauss to his Hungarian Friend Janos Bolyai

  • On a slightly similar note,
    कर्मण्येव अधिकरस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन | मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ||
    “Karmany evadhikaras te
    ma phalesu kadacana
    ma karma-phala-hetur bhur
    ma te sango ‘stv akarmani”
    Translation: “You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty” – Lord Krishna to Arjuna

  • “Rigor is to mathematician what morality is to man” - Andre Weil

  • By Erdos

    • Children were called as Epsilons
    • People who stopped doing math had “died”
    • People who physically died had left