Celebrating 20 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday


Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “A change in motion is proportional to the motive force impressed and takes place along the straight line in which that force is impressed.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index H > G. H. Hardy Quotes > Work

Thumbnail of G. H. Hardy (source)
G. H. Hardy
(7 Feb 1877 - 1 Dec 1947)

English pure mathematician who made leading contributions in analysis and number theory.


G. H. Hardy Quotes on Work (9 quotes)

>> Click for 64 Science Quotes by G. H. Hardy

>> Click for G. H. Hardy Quotes on | Mathematician | Mathematics | Ramanujan_Srinivasa | Theorem |

A man who sets out to justify his existence and his activities has to distinguish two different questions. The first is whether the work which he does is worth doing; and the second is why he does it (whatever its value may be).
— G. H. Hardy
In A Mathematician's Apology (1940, 2012), 66.
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (210)  |  Difference (337)  |  Different (577)  |  Distinguish (160)  |  Distinguishing (14)  |  Doing (280)  |  Existence (460)  |  First (1284)  |  Justification (49)  |  Man (2249)  |  Question (622)  |  Set (394)  |  Two (937)  |  Value (368)  |  Whatever (234)  |  Why (491)  |  Work (1351)  |  Worth (169)

A mathematician … has no material to work with but ideas, and so his patterns are likely to last longer, since ideas wear less with time than words.
— G. H. Hardy
In A Mathematician's Apology (1940, 2012), 84.
Science quotes on:  |  Idea (845)  |  Last (426)  |  Lasting (7)  |  Longer (10)  |  Material (353)  |  Mathematician (389)  |  Pattern (110)  |  Time (1877)  |  Wear (18)  |  Word (622)  |  Work (1351)

A painter makes patterns with shapes and colours, a poet with words. A painting may embody an “idea,” but the idea is usually commonplace and unimportant. In poetry, ideas count for a good deal more; but, as Housman insisted, the importance of ideas in poetry is habitually exaggerated. … The poverty of ideas seems hardly to affect the beauty of the verbal pattern. A mathematician, on the other hand, has no material to work with but ideas, and so his patterns are likely to last longer, since ideas wear less with time than words.
— G. H. Hardy
In A Mathematician’s Apology (1940, 2012), 84-85.
Science quotes on:  |  Affect (19)  |  Beauty (300)  |  Color (138)  |  Commonplace (23)  |  Count (105)  |  Deal (188)  |  Embody (16)  |  Exaggerate (6)  |  Good (889)  |  Habitually (2)  |  A. E. Housman (2)  |  Idea (845)  |  Importance (287)  |  Insist (20)  |  Last (426)  |  Less (103)  |  Material (353)  |  Mathematician (389)  |  More (2559)  |  On The Other Hand (34)  |  Other (2236)  |  Painter (29)  |  Painting (44)  |  Pattern (110)  |  Poet (86)  |  Poetry (144)  |  Poverty (38)  |  Shape (73)  |  Time (1877)  |  Unimportant (6)  |  Usually (176)  |  Verbal (10)  |  Wear (18)  |  Word (622)  |  Work (1351)

Good work is no done by “humble” men. It is one of the first duties of a professor, for example, in any subject, to exaggerate a little both the importance of his subject and his own importance in it. A man who is always asking “Is what I do worth while?” and “Am I the right person to do it?” will always be ineffective himself and a discouragement to others. He must shut his eyes a little and think a little more of his subject and himself than they deserve. This is not too difficult: it is harder not to make his subject and himself ridiculous by shutting his eyes too tightly.
— G. H. Hardy
In A Mathematician’s Apology (1940, 1967), 66.
Science quotes on:  |  Asking (74)  |  Both (494)  |  Deserve (65)  |  Deserving (4)  |  Difficult (247)  |  Difficulty (198)  |  Discouragement (8)  |  Do (1908)  |  Duty (68)  |  Exaggeration (15)  |  Eye (423)  |  First (1284)  |  Good (889)  |  Harder (6)  |  Himself (461)  |  Humble (51)  |  Importance (287)  |  Ineffective (5)  |  Little (708)  |  Man (2249)  |  More (2559)  |  Must (1526)  |  Other (2236)  |  Person (363)  |  Professor (129)  |  Ridiculous (24)  |  Right (452)  |  Shut (41)  |  Subject (522)  |  Think (1086)  |  Thinking (415)  |  Tightly (2)  |  Will (2354)  |  Work (1351)  |  Worth (169)

If a man is in any sense a real mathematician, then it is a hundred to one that his mathematics will be far better than anything else he can do, and that it would be silly if he surrendered any decent opportunity of exercising his one talent in order to do undistinguished work in other fields. Such a sacrifice could be justified only by economic necessity of age.
— G. H. Hardy
In A Mathematician's Apology (1940, 2012), 70.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (499)  |  Better (488)  |  Decent (10)  |  Do (1908)  |  Economic (81)  |  Economics (39)  |  Field (365)  |  Hundred (228)  |  Justification (49)  |  Man (2249)  |  Mathematician (389)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Necessity (191)  |  Opportunity (87)  |  Order (632)  |  Other (2236)  |  Real (149)  |  Sacrifice (50)  |  Sense (770)  |  Silly (17)  |  Surrender (21)  |  Talent (96)  |  Undistinguished (3)  |  Will (2354)  |  Work (1351)

It is a melancholy experience for a professional mathematician to find him writing about mathematics. The function of a mathematician is to do something, to prove new theorems, to add to mathematics, and not to talk about what he or other mathematicians have done. Statesmen despise publicists, painters despise art-critics, and physiologists, physicists, or mathematicians have usually similar feelings; there is no scorn more profound, or on the whole more justifiable, than that of men who make for the men who explain. Exposition, criticism, appreciation, is work for second-rate minds.
— G. H. Hardy
In A Mathematician's Apology (1940, reprint with Foreward by C.P. Snow 1992), 61 (Hardy's opening lines after Snow's foreward).
Science quotes on:  |  Appreciation (34)  |  Art (657)  |  Criticism (78)  |  Do (1908)  |  Experience (470)  |  Explain (322)  |  Feeling (252)  |  Feelings (52)  |  Find (999)  |  Function (229)  |  Mathematician (389)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Melancholy (17)  |  Mind (1339)  |  More (2559)  |  New (1217)  |  Other (2236)  |  Painter (29)  |  Physicist (260)  |  Physiologist (29)  |  Professional (70)  |  Profound (104)  |  Prove (252)  |  Scorn (12)  |  Something (719)  |  Theorem (112)  |  Usually (176)  |  Whole (738)  |  Work (1351)  |  Writing (189)

No mathematician should ever allow him to forget that mathematics, more than any other art or science, is a young man's game. … Galois died at twenty-one, Abel at twenty-seven, Ramanujan at thirty-three, Riemann at forty. There have been men who have done great work later; … [but] I do not know of a single instance of a major mathematical advance initiated by a man past fifty. … A mathematician may still be competent enough at sixty, but it is useless to expect him to have original ideas.
— G. H. Hardy
In A Mathematician's Apology (1941, reprint with Foreward by C.P. Snow 1992), 70-71.
Science quotes on:  |  Niels Henrik Abel (15)  |  Advance (280)  |  Age (499)  |  Art (657)  |  Do (1908)  |  Enough (341)  |  Expect (201)  |  Forget (117)  |  Évariste Galois (4)  |  Game (101)  |  Great (1575)  |  Idea (845)  |  Know (1519)  |  Major (83)  |  Man (2249)  |  Mathematician (389)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  More (2559)  |  Other (2236)  |  Past (337)  |  Srinivasa Ramanujan (17)  |  Science (3880)  |  Single (354)  |  Still (613)  |  Work (1351)  |  Young (228)  |  Youth (103)

There is always more in one of Ramanujan’s formulae than meets the eye, as anyone who sets to work to verify those which look the easiest will soon discover. In some the interest lies very deep, in others comparatively near the surface; but there is not one which is not curious and entertaining.
— G. H. Hardy
Commenting on the formulae in the letters sent by Ramanujan from India, prior to going to England. Footnote in obituary notice by G.H. Hardy in the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society (2) (1921), 19, xl—lviii. The same notice was printed, with slight changes, in the Proceedings of the Royal Society (A) (1921), 94, xiii—xxix. Reprinted in G.H. Hardy, P.V. Seshu Aiyar and B.M. Wilson (eds.) Collected Papers of Srinivasa Ramanujan (1927), xxi.
Science quotes on:  |  Curious (91)  |  Deep (233)  |  Discover (553)  |  Easiest (2)  |  Entertaining (9)  |  Eye (423)  |  Formula (98)  |  Interest (386)  |  Lie (364)  |  Look (582)  |  More (2559)  |  Other (2236)  |  Srinivasa Ramanujan (17)  |  Set (394)  |  Soon (186)  |  Surface (209)  |  Verify (23)  |  Will (2354)  |  Work (1351)

[I was advised] to read Jordan's 'Cours d'analyse'; and I shall never forget the astonishment with which I read that remarkable work, the first inspiration for so many mathematicians of my generation, and learnt for the first time as I read it what mathematics really meant.
— G. H. Hardy
In A Mathematician’s Apology (1940, reprint with Foreward by C.P. Snow 1992), 23.
Science quotes on:  |  Astonishment (30)  |  First (1284)  |  Forget (117)  |  Generation (242)  |  Inspiration (76)  |  Mathematician (389)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Never (1087)  |  Read (288)  |  Time (1877)  |  Work (1351)


See also:
  • 7 Feb - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Hardy's birth.
  • Godfrey Harold Hardy - context of quote Languages die and mathematical ideas do not - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Godfrey Harold Hardy - context of quote Languages die and mathematical ideas do not - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Godfrey Harold Hardy - context of quote Young men should prove theorems, old men should write books. - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Godfrey Harold Hardy - context of quote Young men should prove theorems, old men should write books. - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • A Mathematician's Apology, by G. H. Hardy. - book suggestion.

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
Quotations by:Albert EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton



who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.