Book review: n Mathematical Quotations (where n ~ 100) by Colin Beveridge

book-8-by-brenda-clarkeI like maths. I like quotations. Obviously this book appealed to me.

I was expecting a standard book of quotations, but was pleased to discover that this wasn’t quite what I had anticipated.

There are, as the title suggests, around 100 mathematical quotations from people as diverse as the hoopy frood Douglas Adams, Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman, the statistically inclined Florence Nightingale and the 11-rated visionary that is Nigel Tufnell. The book opens – as perhaps all maths books should – with definitions, before taking us on a tour of geek pride, perseverance, failure, the universe and even a spot of careers advice.

The quotations themselves are an interesting mix: some are serious, some humorous, some flippant, others profound. Each quote comes with a brief (and often tongue-in-cheek) biographical description and commentary. By the end of the book you will have met David Hilbert, infinite hotelier and nodded sagely at Alfréd Rényi’s assertion that “a mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems”.

This is not a reference book that you would cite in a scholarly manner. It is a very entertaining read. If you like maths and quotations – and you can cope with a few rude w*rds – then I think you’ll enjoy it.

The only disappointment is that 100 quotations makes for a fairly short book. Hopefully there will be a sequel. 2n Mathematical Quotations perhaps?


My verdict:

4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars – really liked it


This review also appears on, and my professional blog.

Photo: Book 8 by Brenda Clarke on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons Licence.

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