J. E. Littlewood

1885 - 1977

A Quote by J. E. Littlewood on friendship, proof, wishes, and wonder

I read in the proof sheets of Hardy on Ramanujan: "As someone said, each of the positive integers was one of his personal friends." My reaction was, "I wonder who said that; I wish I had." In the next proof-sheets I read (what now stands), "It was Littlewood who said..."

J. E. Littlewood (1885 - 1977)

Source: A Mathematician's Miscellany, Methuen Co. Ltd, 1953.

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by J. E. Littlewood on feeling

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I recall once saying that when I had given the same lecture several times I couldn't help feeling that they really ought to know it by now.

J. E. Littlewood (1885 - 1977)

Source: A Mathematician's Miscellany, Methuen and Co. ltd., 1953.

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by J. E. Littlewood on belief, certainty, change, practice, research, teaching, and trouble

In passing, I firmly believe that research should be offset by a certain amount of teaching, if only as a change from the agony of research. The trouble, however, I freely admit, is that in practice you get either no teaching, or else far too much.

J. E. Littlewood (1885 - 1977)

Source: "The Mathematician's Art of Work" in Béla Bollobás (ed.) Littlewood's Miscellany, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by J. E. Littlewood on accidents, argument, chance, conscience, dawn, education, identity, problems, and wishes

In presenting a mathematical argument the great thing is to give the educated reader the chance to catch on at once to the momentary point and take details for granted: his successive mouthfuls should be such as can be swallowed at sight; in case of accidents, or in case he wishes for once to check in detail, he should have only a clearly circumscribed little problem to solve (e.g. to check an identity: two trivialities omitted can add up to an impasse). The unpractised writer, even after the dawn of a conscience, gives him no such chance; before he can spot the point he has to tease his way through a maze of symbols of which not the tiniest suffix can be skipped.

J. E. Littlewood (1885 - 1977)

Source: A Mathematician's Miscellany, Methuen Co. Ltd., 1953.

Contributed by: Zaady

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