## Quotes by and about David Hilbert

**1. A quote from Thomas Arthur Alan Broadbent.**

**Source:**T A A Broadbent, Review: Gesammelte Abhandlungen. II by David Hilbert; Gesammelte Abhandlungen. III by David Hilbert, The Mathematical Gazette 52 (379) (1968), 61-62. (1965).

**2. A quote from John David North.**

**Source:**J D North, Review: Gesammelte Abhandlungen, by David Hilbert (1970); Hilbert Gedenkband, by K Reidemeister (1971), The British Journal for the History of Science 6 (2) (1972), 208-209.

**3. A quote from Victor Vinnikov.**

**Source:**V Vinnikov, We shall know: Hilbert's apology,

*Math. Intelligencer*

**21**(1) (1999), 42-46.

**4. A quote from Rüdiger Thiele.**

**Source:**R Thiele, Hilbert and his twenty-four problems, in

*Mathematics and the historian's craft*(CMS Books Math./Ouvrages Math. SMC, 21, Springer, New York, 2005), 243-295.

**5. A quote from David E Rowe.**

**Source:**D E Rowe, From Königsberg to Göttingen: a sketch of Hilbert's early career,

*Math. Intelligencer*

**25**(2) (2003), 44-50.

**6. Letter from Hilbert to Klein, 24 July 1890.**

**Source:**D E Rowe, Hilbert's early career: encounters with allies and rivals,

*Math. Intelligencer*

**27**(1) (2005), 72-82.

**7. Extract from the Preface of Hilbert's 'Zahlbericht'.**

**8. A quote from David E Rowe.**

**Source:**D E Rowe, Mathematics made in Germany: on the background to Hilbert's Paris lecture,

*Math. Intelligencer*

**35**(3) (2013), 9-20.

*mathesis universalis*. It was the stuff from which legends are born.

**9. An extract from Hilbert's 1928 address to the International Congress.**

**Source:**Guillermo P Curbera,

*Mathematicians of the world, unite! The International Congress of Mathematicians - a human endeavor*(A K Peters Ltd., Wellesley, MA, 2009).

It makes me very happy that after a long, hard time all the mathematicians of the world are represented here. That is as it should be and as it must be for the prosperity of our beloved science. Let us consider that we as mathematicians stand on the highest pinnacle of the cultivation of the exact sciences. We have no other choice than to assume this highest place, because all limits, especially national ones, are contrary to the nature of mathematics. It is a complete misunderstanding of our science to construct differences according to people and races, and the reasons for which this has been done are very shabby ones. Mathematics knows no races ... For mathematics the whole cultural world is a single country.

**10. Two quotes from Hermann Weyl.**

**Source:**H Weyl, Hermann Obituary: David Hilbert. 1862-1943,

*Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society of London*

**4**(1944), 547-553.

**10.1.**Hilbert was of slight build. Above the small lower face with its goatee there rose the dome of a powerful, in later years bald, skull. He was physically agile, a tireless walker, a good skater, and a passionate gardener. Until 1925 he enjoyed good health. Then he fell ill of pernicious anaemia. Yet this illness only temporarily paralyzed his restless activity in teaching and research. He was among the first with whom the liver treatment, inaugurated by G R Minot at Harvard, proved successful; undoubtedly it saved Hilbert's life at that time.

**10.2.** In Hilbert simplicity and rigour go hand in hand. The growing demand for rigour, imposed by the critical reflections of the nineteenth century upon those parts of mathematics which operate in the continuum, was felt by most investigators as a heavy yoke that made their steps dragging and awkward. Full of longing and with uneasiness they looked back upon Euler's era of happy-go-lucky analysis. With Hilbert rigour figures no longer as enemy, but as promoter of simplicity. Yet the secret of Hilbert's creative force is not plumbed by any of these remarks. A further element of it, I feel, was his sensitivity in registering hints which revealed to him general relations while solving special problems. This is most magnificently exemplified by the way in which, during his theory of numbers period, he was led to the enunciation of his general theorems on class fields and the general law of reciprocity.

JOC/EFR November 2014

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