##### Littlewood, J. E. (1885-1977)

The infinitely
competent can be
uncreative.

In H. Eves
Mathematical Circles
Squared, Boston:
Prindle, Weber and
Schmidt, 1972.

##### Littlewood, J. E. (1885-1977)

I constantly meet
people who are
doubtful, generally
without due reason,
about their
potential capacity
[as mathematicians].
The first test is
whether you got
anything out of
geometry. To have
disliked or failed
to get on with other
[mathematical]
subjects need mean
nothing; much drill
and drudgery is
unavoidable before
they can get
started, and bad
teaching can make
them unintelligible
even to a born
mathematician.

A Mathematician's
Miscellany, Methuen
and Co., 1953.

##### Littlewood, J. E. (1885-1977)

It is possible for a
mathematician to be
"too strong" for a
given occasion. He
forces through,
where another might
be driven to a
different, and
possibly more
fruitful, approach.
(So a rock climber
might force a
dreadful crack,
instead of finding a
subtle and delicate
route.)

A Mathematician's
Miscellany, Methuen
and Co., 1953.

##### Littlewood, J. E. (1885-1977)

In passing, I firmly
believe that
research should be
offset by a certain
amount of teaching,
if only as a change
from the agony of
research. The
trouble, however, I
freely admit, is
that in practice you
get either no
teaching, or else
far too much.

"The Mathematician's
Art of Work" in Bela
Bollobas (ed.)
Littlewood's
Miscellany,
Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press,
1986.

##### Littlewood, J. E. (1885-1977)

I recall once saying
that when I had
given the same
lecture several
times I couldn't
help feeling that
they really ought to
know it by now.

A Mathematician's
Miscellany, Methuen
and Co., 1953.

##### Littlewood, J. E. (1885-1977)

A good mathematical
joke is better, and
better mathematics,
than a dozen
mediocre papers.

A Mathematician's
Miscellany, Methuen
and Co., 1953.

##### Littlewood, J. E. (1885-1977)

It is true that I
should have been
surprised in the
past to learn that
Professor Hardy had
joined the Oxford
Group. But one could
not say the adverse
chance was 1:10.
Mathematics is a
dangerous
profession; an
appreciable
proportion of us go
mad, and then this
particular event
would be quite
likely.

A Mathematician's
Miscellany, Methuen
and Co., 1953.

##### le Lionnais, Francois

Who has not been
amazed to learn that
the function y = e^x
, like a phoenix
rising again from
its own ashes, is
its own derivative?

Great Currents of
Mathematical
Thought, Vol. 1, New
York: Dover
Publications.

##### Lippman, Gabriel (1845-1921)

[On the Gaussian
curve, remarked to
Poincare:]

Experimentalists
think that it is a
mathematical theorem
while the
mathematicians
believe it to be an
experimental fact.

In D'Arcy Thompson,
On Growth and Form,
1917.

##### Lichtenberg, Georg Christoph (1742 - 1799)

I have often noticed that when people come to understand a mathematical proposition in some other way than that of the ordinary demonstration, they promptly say, "Oh, I see. That's how it must be." This is a sign that they explain it to themselves from within their own system.