I confess that Fermat's Theorem as an isolated proposition has very little interest for me, because I could easily lay down a multitude of such propositions, which one could neither prove nor dispose of.
A reply to Olbers' 1816 attempt to entice him to work on Fermat's Theorem. As quoted in The World of Mathematics (1956) Edited by J. R. Newman
Finally, two days ago, I succeeded— not on account of my hard efforts, but by the grace of the Lord. Like a sudden flash of lightning, the riddle was solved. I am unable to say what was the conducting thread that connected what I previously knew with what made my success possible.Carl Friedrich Gauss
But in our opinion truths of this kind should be drawn from notions rather than from notations.Carl Friedrich Gauss
The problem of distinguishing prime numbers from composite numbers and of resolving the latter into their prime factors is known to be one of the most important and useful in arithmetic. It has engaged the industry and wisdom of ancient and modern geometers to such an extent that it would be superfluous to discuss the problem at length. ...Further, the dignity of the science itself seems to require that every possible means be explored for the solution of a problem so elegant and so celebrated.
Problema, numeros primos a compositis dignoscendi, hosque in factores suos primos resolvendi, ad gravissima ac utilissima totius arithmeticae pertinere, et geometrarum tum veterum tum recentiorum industriam ac sagacitatem occupavisse, tam notum est, ut de hac re copiose loqui superfluum foret. ... [P]raetereaque scientiae dignitas requirere videtur, ut omnia subsidia ad solutionem problematis tam elegantis ac celebris sedulo excolantur.
The enchanting charms of this sublime science reveal themselves in all their beauty only to those who have the courage to go deeply into it. But when a person of that sex, that, because of our mores and our prejudices, has to encounter infinitely more obstacles and difficulties than men in familiarizing herself with these thorny research problems, nevertheless succeeds in surmounting these obstacles and penetrating their most obscure parts, she must without doubt have the noblest courage, quite extraordinary talents and superior genius.Carl Friedrich Gauss
Less depends upon the choice of words than upon this, that their introduction shall be justified by pregnant theorems.Carl Friedrich Gauss
Arc, amplitude, and curvature sustain a similar relation to each other as time, motion, and velocity, or as volume, mass, and density.Carl Friedrich Gauss
I mean the word proof not in the sense of the lawyers, who set two half proofs equal to a whole one, but in the sense of a mathematician, where ½ proof = 0, and it is demanded for proof that every doubt becomes impossible.Carl Friedrich Gauss
We must admit with humility that, while number is purely a product of our minds, space has a reality outside our minds, so that we cannot completely prescribe its properties a priori.Carl Friedrich Gauss
To praise it would amount to praising myself. For the entire content of the work ... coincides almost exactly with my own meditations which have occupied my mind for the past thirty or thirty-five years.Carl Friedrich Gauss
Mathematics is the queen of the sciences.Carl Friedrich Gauss
The function just found cannot, it is true, express rigorously the probabilities of the errors: for since the possible errors are in all cases confined within certain limits, the probability of errors exceeding those limits ought always to be zero, while our formula always gives some value. However, this defect, which every analytical function must, from its nature, labor under, is of no importance in practice, because the value of our function decreases so rapidly... that it can safely be considered as vanishing. Besides, the nature of the subject never admits of assigning with absolute rigor the limits of error.Carl Friedrich Gauss
Ask her to wait a moment — I am almost done.Carl Friedrich Gauss
I have had my results for a long time: but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them.Carl Friedrich Gauss
If others would but reflect on mathematical truths as deeply and as continuously as I have, they would make my discoveries.Carl Friedrich Gauss
There are problems to whose solution I would attach an infinitely greater importance than to those of mathematics, for example touching ethics, or our relation to God, or concerning our destiny and our future; but their solution lies wholly beyond us and completely outside the province of science.Carl Friedrich Gauss
I believe you are more believing in the Bible than I. I am not, and, you are much happier than I.Carl Friedrich Gauss
A great part of its theories derives an additional charm from the peculiarity that important propositions, with the impress of simplicity on them, are often easily discovered by induction, and yet are of so profound a character that we cannot find the demonstrations till after many vain attempts; and even then, when we do succeed, it is often by some tedious and artificial process, while the simple methods may long remain concealed.Carl Friedrich Gauss
I am coming more and more to the conviction that the necessity of our geometry cannot be demonstrated, at least neither by, nor for, the human intellect. . . Geometry should be ranked, not with arithmetic, which is purely aprioristic, but with mechanics.Carl Friedrich Gauss
You know that I write slowly. This is chiefly because I am never satisfied until I have said as much as possible in a few words, and writing briefly takes far more time than writing at length.Carl Friedrich Gauss
It may be true, that men, who are mere mathematicians, have certain specific shortcomings, but that is not the fault of mathematics, for it is equally true of every other exclusive occupation. So there are mere philologists, mere jurists, mere soldiers, mere merchants, etc. To such idle talk it might further be added: that whenever a certain exclusive occupation is coupled with specific shortcomings, it is likewise almost certainly divorced from certain other shortcomings.Carl Friedrich Gauss