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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index B > Maxime Bôcher Quotes

Maxime Bôcher
(28 Aug 1867 - 12 Sep 1918)

American mathematician whose reputation was built upon both his teaching and his research in differential equations, series, and higher algebra.


Science Quotes by Maxime Bôcher (2 quotes)

I like to look at mathematics almost more as an art than as a science; for the activity of the mathematician, constantly creating as he is, guided though not controlled by the external world of the senses, bears a resemblance, not fanciful I believe but real, to the activity of an artist, of a painter let us say. Rigorous deductive reasoning on the part of the mathematician may be likened here to technical skill in drawing on the part of the painter. Just as no one can become a good painter without a certain amount of skill, so no one can become a mathematician without the power to reason accurately up to a certain point. Yet these qualities, fundamental though they are, do not make a painter or mathematician worthy of the name, nor indeed are they the most important factors in the case. Other qualities of a far more subtle sort, chief among which in both cases is imagination, go to the making of a good artist or good mathematician.
— Maxime Bôcher
From 'Fundamental Conceptions and Methods in Mathematics', Bulletin American Mathematical Society (1904), 9, 133. As cited in Robert Édouard Moritz, Memorabilia Mathematica; Or, The Philomath’s Quotation-Book (1914), 182.
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It is commonly considered that mathematics owes its certainty to its reliance on the immutable principles of formal logic. This … is only half the truth imperfectly expressed. The other half would be that the principles of formal logic owe such a degree of permanence as they have largely to the fact that they have been tempered by long and varied use by mathematicians. “A vicious circle!” you will perhaps say. I should rather describe it as an example of the process known by mathematicians as the method of successive approximation.
— Maxime Bôcher
In 'The Fundamental Conceptions And Methods Of Mathematics', Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society (3 Nov 1904), 11, No. 3, 120.
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  • 28 Aug - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Bôcher's birth.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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