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Quotes of the day: John von Neumann

Published Saturday, February 08, 2014 @ 1:11 AM EST
Feb 08 2014

John von Neumann (December 28, 1903 – February 8, 1957) was a Hungarian pure and applied mathematician and polymath. He made major contributions to a number of fields, including mathematics (foundations of mathematics, functional analysis, ergodic theory, geometry, topology, and numerical analysis), physics (quantum mechanics, hydrodynamics, and fluid dynamics), economics (game theory), computer science (Von Neumann architecture, linear programming, self-replicating machines, stochastic computing), and statistics. He was a pioneer of the application of operator theory to quantum mechanics, in the development of functional analysis, a principal member of the Manhattan Project and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (as one of the few originally appointed), and a key figure in the development of game theory and the concepts of cellular automata, the universal constructor, and the digital computer. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


All stable processes we shall predict. All unstable processes we shall control.

Anyone attempting to generate random numbers by deterministic means is, of course, living in a state of sin.

If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is.

In mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them.

It is just as foolish to complain that people are selfish and treacherous as it is to complain that the magnetic field does not increase unless the electric field has a curl. Both are laws of nature.

It would appear that we have reached the limits of what it is possible to achieve with computer technology, although one should be careful with such statements, as they tend to sound pretty silly in five years.

Life is a process which may be abstracted from other media.

The sciences do not try to explain, they hardly even try to interpret, they mainly make models. By a model is meant a mathematical construct which, with the addition of certain verbal interpretations describes observed phenomena. The justification of such a mathematical construct is solely and precisely that it is expected to work.

There is an infinite set A that is not too big.

There probably is a God. Many things are easier to explain if there is than if there isn't.

There's no sense in being precise when you don't even know what you're talking about.

We willingly pay 30,000 - 40,000 fatalities per year for the advantages of individual transportation by automobile.

When we talk mathematics, we may be discussing a secondary language built on the primary language of the nervous system.

With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.

You don't have to be responsible for the world that you're in.

You insist that there is something a machine cannot do. If you tell me precisely what it is a machine cannot do, then I can always make a machine which will do just that.

You wake me up early in the morning to tell me that I'm right? Please wait until I'm wrong.

Young man, in mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them.

Categories: John von Neumann, Quotes of the day


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