John von Neumann
(28 Dec 1903 - 8 Feb 1957)
John von Neumann - In mathematics you don't understand things.
Illustrated Quote - Large (800 x 600 px)
This quote is regarded as attributed because it was passed along from one person to another, and likely does not give the original verbatim version. The story goes like this:
Physicist: I'm afraid I don't understand the method of characteristics.
Neumann: In mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
This version is as related by Dr. Felix Smith (Head of Molecular Physics, Stanford Research Institute) to author Gary Zukav, who quoted it in The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics. The physicist (a friend of Dr. Smith) worked at Los Alamos after WW II. It should be noted that although the author uses quotation marks around the spoken remarks, that they represent the author's memory of Dr. Smith's recollection, who heard it from the physicist. Therefore the fourth-hand wording is very likely not verbatim. Webmaster finds Zukav's book seems to be the only source for this quote.
- Science Quotes by John von Neumann.
- 28 Dec - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Neumann's birth.
- John von Neumann - context of quote In mathematics you don't understand things. - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
- John von Neumann: The Scientific Genius Who Pioneered..., by Norman MacRae. - book suggestion.