the nature of mathematics

See also classifying mathematics.

For most people math is neither a science (seeking truth) nor an art (seeking beauty), it is a technology (seeking usefulness). It makes things possible. That’s the case both for people who don’t do anything more mathematical than balance their checkbooks and for people who use mathematics heavily, like engineers. Mathematicians are the last holdouts looking for truth and beauty in mathematics. Everybody else knows that math is false and ugly. (Engineers sure do.)

updated 28 June 2000