John von Neumann quote

"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-that is, correctly to describe phenomena from a reasonably wide area."

John von Neumann

Born: December 28, 1903

Die: February 8, 1957

Occupation: Mathematician

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Technological possibilities are irresistible to man. If man can go to the moon, he will. If he can control the climate, he will.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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Kurt Godel's achievement in modern logic is singular and monumental - indeed it is more than a monument, it is a landmark which will remain visible far in space and time. ... The subject of logic has certainly...

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Any one who considers arithmetical methods of producing random digits is, of course, in a state of sin. For, as has been pointed out several times, there is no such thing as a random number– there are...

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Truth is much too complicated to allow anything but approximations.

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The calculus was the first achievement of modern mathematics and it is difficult to overestimate its importance. I think it defines more unequivocally than anything else the inception of modern mathematics;...

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I would like to make a confession which may seem immoral: I do not believe in Hilbert space anymore.

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

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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,...

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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.

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Anyone who considers arithmetical methods of producing random digits is, of course, in a state of sin.

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

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Related quote

John von Neumann

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,...

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Stephen Hawking

One might think this means that imaginary numbers are just a mathematical game having nothing to do with the real world. From the viewpoint of positivist philosophy, however, one cannot determine what...

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Joseph Lovering

The great problem of today is, how to subject all physical phenomena to dynamical laws. With all the experimental devices, and all the mathematical appliances of this generation, the human mind has been...

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Fritjof Capra

The mathematical framework of quantum theory has passed countless successful tests and is now universally accepted as a consistent and accurate description of all atomic phenomena. The verbal interpretation,...

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Augustus De Morgan

During the last two centuries and a half, physical knowledge has been gradually made to rest upon a basis which it had not before. It has become mathematical. The question now is, not whether this or that...

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Oliver Heaviside

Now, in the development of our knowledge of the workings of Nature out of the tremendously complex assemblage of phenomena presented to the scientific inquirer, mathematics plays in some respects a very...

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Alfred North Whitehead

I will not go so far as to say that to construct a history of thought without profound study of the mathematical ideas of successive epochs is like omitting Hamlet from the play which is named after him....

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William Whewell

The hypotheses which we accept ought to explain phenomena which we have observed. But they ought to do more than this; our hypotheses ought to foretell phenomena which have not yet been observed; ... because...

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Mary Midgley

What great philosophers do for us is not to hand out such an all-purpose system. It is to light up and clarify some special aspect of life, to supply conceptual tools which will do a certain necessary...

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Aristotle

Those who assert that the mathematical sciences say nothing of the beautiful or the good are in error. For these sciences say and prove a great deal about them; if they do not expressly mention them, but...

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Robert Lowie

Since biological change occurs slowly and cultural changes occur in every generation, it is futile to try to explain the fleeting phenomena of culture by a racial constant. We can often explain them-in...

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Adolphe Quetelet

It would appear... that moral phenomena, when observed on a great scale, are found to resemble physical phenomena; and we thus arrive, in inquiries of this kind, at the fundamental principle, that the...

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Yes, I share your concern: how to program well -though a teachable topic- is hardly taught. The situation is similar to that in mathematics, where the explicit curriculum is confined to mathematical results;...

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Inevitably we construct ourselves. Let me explain. I enter this house and immediately I become what I have to become, what I can become: I construct myself. That is, I present myself to you in a form suitable...

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Leonhard Euler

Although to penetrate into the intimate mysteries of nature and thence to learn the true causes of phenomena is not allowed to us, nevertheless it can happen that a certain fictive hypothesis may suffice...

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Georg C. Lichtenberg

I have often noticed that when people come to understand a mathematical proposition in some other way than that of the ordinary demonstration, they promptly say, "Oh, I see. That's how it must be." This...

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Richard Wiseman

Magicians are manipulating your consciousness. They are showing you something impossible. They're getting you to construct a narrative, which simply isn't true. So that means they know how to make you...

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Karl Popper

A theory is just a mathematical model to describe the observations.

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Dennis Flanagan

It is easy to make out three areas where scientists will be concentrating their efforts in the coming decades. One is in physics, where leading theorists are striving, with the help of experimentalists,...

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Marcello Malpighi

Nature has but one plan of operation, invariably the same in the smallest things as well as in the largest, and so often do we see the smallest masses selected for use in Nature, that even enormous ones...

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