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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index C > Julian Lowell Coolidge Quotes

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Julian Lowell Coolidge
(28 Sep 1873 - 5 Mar 1954)

American mathematician and educator noted for numerous published works in theoretical mathematics and later, a book on the history of mathematics.


Science Quotes by Julian Lowell Coolidge (4 quotes)

But in the present century, thanks in good part to the influence of Hilbert, we have come to see that the unproved postulates with which we start are purely arbitrary. They must be consistent, they had better lead to something interesting.
— Julian Lowell Coolidge
In A History of Geometrical Methods (1940, reprint 2003), 423.
Science quotes on:  |  Arbitrary (16)  |  Consistent (10)  |  David Hilbert (35)  |  Influence (110)  |  Interesting (38)  |  Lead (101)  |  Postulate (23)  |  Unproven (3)

Every writer must reconcile, as best he may, the conflicting claims of consistency and variety, of rigour in detail and elegance in the whole. The present author humbly confesses that, to him, geometry is nothing at all, if not a branch of art.
— Julian Lowell Coolidge
Concluding remark in preface to Treatise on Algebraic Plane Curves (1931), x.
Science quotes on:  |  Art (205)  |  Author (39)  |  Branch (61)  |  Claim (52)  |  Conflicting (3)  |  Consistency (21)  |  Detail (65)  |  Elegance (20)  |  Geometry (99)  |  Reconcile (10)  |  Rigour (10)  |  Science And Art (157)  |  Variety (53)  |  Whole (122)  |  Writer (35)

The average gambler will say “The player who stakes his whole fortune on a single play is a fool, and the science of mathematics can not prove him to be otherwise.” The reply is obvious: “The science of mathematics never attempts the impossible, it merely shows that other players are greater fools.”
[Concluding remarks to his mathematical proof, with certain assumptions, that a gambler's best strategy would be to always make his largest stake on his first play.]
— Julian Lowell Coolidge
In 'Gambler's Ruin', Annals of Mathematics (Jul 1909), 2nd Series, 10, No. 4, 189. This is also seen, without primary source, quoted as “It is true that a man who does this is a fool. I have only proved that a man who does anything else is an even bigger fool,” in Harold Eves, Return to Mathematical Circles (1988), 39.
Science quotes on:  |  Attempt (94)  |  Average (31)  |  Fool (70)  |  Fortune (23)  |  Gambler (4)  |  Greater (36)  |  Impossible (68)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Merely (35)  |  Obvious (54)  |  Other (25)  |  Otherwise (16)  |  Play (60)  |  Player (5)  |  Prove (60)  |  Reply (18)  |  Show (55)  |  Single (72)  |  Stake (14)  |  Strategy (8)  |  Whole (122)

[Before the time of Benjamin Peirce it never occurred to anyone that mathematical research] was one of the things for which a mathematical department existed. Today it is a commonplace in all the leading universities. Peirce stood alone—a mountain peak whose absolute height might be hard to measure, but which towered above all the surrounding country.
— Julian Lowell Coolidge
In 'The Story of Mathematics at Harvard', Harvard Alumni Bulletin (3 Jan 1924), 26, 376. Cited by R. C. Archibald in 'Benjamin Peirce: V. Biographical Sketch', The American Mathematical Monthly (Jan 1925), 32, No. 1, 10.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (65)  |  Alone (61)  |  Commonplace (10)  |  Country (121)  |  Department (33)  |  Height (24)  |  Leading (14)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Measure (70)  |  Mountain (111)  |  Occurred (2)  |  Peak (15)  |  Benjamin Peirce (7)  |  Research (517)  |  Surrounding (11)  |  University (51)


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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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