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Apologie van een wiskundige

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  3,751 Ratings  ·  231 Reviews
G.H. Hardy werd door zijn tijdgenoten geprezen als ‘een echte wiskundige, de zuiverste in zijn soort’. Deze ‘apologie’, die Hardy schreef toen zijn wiskundig talent tanende was, is een aangrijpend verhaal over de schoonheid en het nut van de wiskunde en geeft een treffend beeld van het leven en denken van een ware wetenschapper.

In zijn uitgebreide voorwoord beschrijft C.P.
Paperback, 144 pages
Published 2011 by Nieuwezijds (first published 1940)
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May 31, 2011 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amusing, even if it was as sad as the introduction suggested. Read it in high school, but haven't since. Glad I took another crack at it. It just about made me want to crack open one of my math books! I enjoyed the style of exposition, as well as much of the message, though, admittedly, I probably lost track of an argument here or there.

I think avoided pulling out some of the more quoted passages, though I'm sure these aren't entirely original selections:

68: If a man has any genuine talent, he s
I nearly studied maths at university, because of this book.

When I was sixteen, I was scared of the grades and numbers end of academia, and I was determined that whatever I was going to study - and it was going to be something, and a lot of it - I was going to do it for the love of it. I was going to read around my subjects, follow tangents and pick whatever took my fancy. So, a few months into a Maths A-level, I took this out of Southampton Central Library, and I didn't give it back for nearly a
Douglas Dalrymple
I wonder how much my enjoyment of this book was hampered by my mathematical incompetence. Not too much, I hope. CP Snow’s introduction is as good as the book, but you can’t fault Hardy with not giving you something to chew on. Rather than try to summarize my feelings about Hardy’s little book, I’m going to take the lazy option here and simply repost from my blog:


In A Mathematician’s Apology G.H. Hardy estimates that only five or ten people in a hundred can do something “rather well.” Considerab
Yasiru (reviews will soon be removed and linked to blog)
The text may be found at

I had the good fortune to come across this title just as I was finally beginning to see the glimmers of beauty in mathematics thanks to the efforts of some wonderful instructors on the subject during my later school years. It called upon me for a deeper reflection on my chosen pursuit, which at that point appealed to me for its fundamental importance to the other sciences and for the simple pleasure that can be gleaned of it. I was
Mar 17, 2011 Nicolle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This memoir from G.H Hardy has truly changed my perception of mathematics and mathematicians. Hardy is a remarkable man, though unusual (he likes cricket!) and with collaborations with Littlewood and Ramanujan he made astonishing breakthroughs in the mathematical field. The one thing which struck me in this novel was Hardy's sorrow caused by old age, he seemed in mourning for the creativity and drive for mathematics that he had once held. Some of his deep emotions are layed bare in this novel, a ...more
Nov 12, 2011 Jake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: math
Recently I started teaching myself to program. An article I read recommended Project Euler, which is a set of math exercises intended to be completed with computer code. So for the last few months I've been doing more writing than reading, as I puzzled through these math problems. Research on various problems led to me to other math websites, and often G.H. Hardy's short book "A Mathematician's Apology" was mentioned in various contexts. I picked it up, and found a lot of what Hardy wrote applie ...more
Roy Lotz
Sep 23, 2013 Roy Lotz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: math
The first thing the reader of this book will notice is that Hardy is an excellent writer. Although he repeatedly insists that his only talent lay in his mathematical ability, it is clear that he is a seasoned wordsmith.

The first mark of a good writer is their seemingly effortless ability to convey their personality through the written word, no matter the subject or format. The reader is immediately presented with Hardy the man, as if he is sitting in front of you giving a lecture.

One of the draw
Feb 07, 2014 Phil rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I object not to the message, but rather its form. Essentially, GH argues that mathematics is worth the world's time and effort--that it is a beautiful, creative, and noble pursuit. I'm already convinced of this, so maybe I'm not his target audience and should therefore shut up. I've spent a non-trivial amount of around mathematicians. They are almost a different species, and I envy their passion and analytic abilities. While I'm glad GH tried to be their advocate--which must've been more necessa ...more
Mar 09, 2008 Douglas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here's a reason one might want to read this book. In his introduction, C.P. Snow points out that Hardy's capacity for dissimulation "was always minimial." And he goes on to illustrate this with a passage in the Apology where Hardy says, "I do not remember having felt, as a boy, any passion for mathematics, and such notions as I may have had of the career of a mathematician were far from noble. I thought of mathematics in terms of examinations and scholarships; I wanted to beat other boys, and th ...more
Oct 16, 2010 Merilee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm finally actually getting to it. I just read the wonderful 50+ page intro my C.P. Snow (one of my heros). The intro is almost as long as the actual Hardy part. Apparently Graham Greene, in a review, said that along with Henry James' notebooks, Hardy's book was the best description of what it's like to be a creative artist. Despite much googling, I sadly cannot find a copy of the original Greene review. Perhaps I'll finish the rest this evening, if the wonderful Indian food we're off to eat wi ...more
Dec 11, 2016 Jimmy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, mathematics
Mr. Hardy explains the difference between pure and applied mathematics. Math history thrown in and some stories about Bertrand Russell and others. There's also a hint of defensiveness as he tries to explain the beauty of spending a life on math that has no real world applications.
Nov 20, 2012 alicatstrut rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like Letters to a Young Poet for Mathematicians. Only depressing instead of uplifting. Loved it.
May 03, 2014 Aditi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Since I have recommended this book to some friends, I'd better review it for them. It isn't going to be easy, just like the book wasn't easy to read, so here goes nothing:

1. This is an enlightening book, especially if you are looking to create some form of original work in academics. Are you planning on writing a doctorate thesis at some point? Read this, because it puts forth another academician's ideas about what a good contribution is. It helps that Hardy managed very well for himself.

Even i
May 16, 2013 spoko rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I am a bit of a sucker for esoteric works that stand out beyond their field. One of my favorite books is Eric Gill's Essay on Typography, for example. So I had asked for recommendations in an online forum, and this was one of the ones that was suggested. It was the only one that wasn't from the hard sciences, and it wasn't that long, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Honestly, I barely finished it. If it weren't that I am this particular type of sucker, and also that I had a goal of reading a cer ...more
Jenni  Lunde
Jun 28, 2008 Jenni Lunde rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who enjoy reading and despise math
Recommended to Jenni by: Jim Hendrickson, a Calculus professor
This is something that English-loving people who hate math should read. Hardy was, in his terms, a "pure" (not applied or even "useful") mathematician. This means that he saw his world in terms of math (very complicated math), even though he realized that his world of math does not always represent "reality." In fact, in this work, he comes to think of math in terms of art, since it is made up entirely of human ideas and is open to play and interpretation. He also makes the obvious parallel of m ...more
Nov 13, 2016 Amirreza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got to know prof. Hardy after watching the movie about him and Ramanujan, which inspired me to know more of his personal life and professional work. G.H. Hardy has been famous for his brilliance in mathematics and eccentric character at the same time. This book tries to give a brief insight to mathematicians life in 29 chapters such as defining the usefulness of mathematics, real and applied parts of mathematics, etc. I was fascinated to see a mathematician's attitude towards real life applica ...more
Sam Chow
Oct 17, 2015 Sam Chow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A short and famous book that's still relevant today. "A man who is always asking 'Is what I do worth while?' and 'Am I the right person to do it?' will always be ineffective himself and a discouragement to others." Indeed, such people are so depressing. In his Apology, G.H. Hardy has gotten to a point in his life at which he feels creatively useless, and only then does he look back on his life and attempt to justify it by assessing pure mathematics as a career. The philosophical aspects are very ...more
Bill Johnston
Despite how well known it is, and how many say it speaks for mathematics, I am unable to give this book a high rating. I doubt the less-than-stellar 50 page introduction to a 100 page book biased me against the actual A Mathematician's Apology. The Apology is a long-winded, repetitive statement of a few core beliefs of mathematics professors: that pure math is better than applied, that logic is better than reality, and that they can take satisfaction that their actions will neither help nor harm ...more
Dec 18, 2007 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is undeniably a beautifully written book, essentially an essay in defense of the value of pure mathematics. It's also a poignant and moving piece of autobiography. On the other hand I think it's bad for people to read it who don't have their own strong, fully formed ideas about math. Hardy is of the "the only worthwhile thing is to pursue your talent" school and the "math is a young man's game" school and the "most people are mediocre" school and generally will make anyone studying math fee ...more
Jan 11, 2013 Behzad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We can probably not find a man in science like Hardy to despise war so much as to go into great length to justify uselessness of "his mathematics" for any kind of war, propaganda and human affair. But it only took a century to prove him wrong. Today his math is the biggest tool that can affect any war, state of humanity and happiness of people. His apology and the intro by C. P. Snow was a very good book to read in just one sitting.
Aditya Anirudh
Jul 09, 2015 Aditya Anirudh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even if the name didn't have mathematics in it, I guess we can easily guess that this was written by a mathematician because of the generality of the content. It's not about just mathematics but any form of pure art. Let it be science, music, painting, mathematics, poetry etc. A short, sweet and beautiful insight into inner wars of an artist's mind.
he was the purest of the pure...his face was beautiful ----high check bones,thin nose,spiritual and ausfere but capable of dissolving into convulsions of internal gamin -- like amusement..........intellectual curiosity...prefessional pride...
Anh Dinh
Oct 14, 2009 Anh Dinh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As Hardy pointed out himself, criticisms are work of second-rate mind. This book is awesome, it sheds so much light on what is going on inside mathematician's mind. I particularly like the part when he argues why mathematics is beautiful, and what constitutes a beautiful mathematical theorem.
Charles Daney
May 27, 2017 Charles Daney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mathematics, reviewed
There are, roughly, two sorts of people who might consider reading this very short book: those who know or work with a fairly large amount of mathematics, and those who don't. There are different things that should be said about the book to each group. Let's take the latter group first.

One dictionary definition of "apology" is "a formal spoken or written defense of some idea, religion, philosophy, etc." People who've had little exposure to mathematics beyond the basics of ordinary arithmetic, so
"The mathematician's patterns must be beautiful. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics."

I thoroughly enjoyed Hardy's "A Methematician's Apology". A hauntingly timeless piece, giving an accessible account of the point of real mathematics which doesn't just rely on downstream applications, told in an engaging and eloquent style. It is amazing to think that this was written in 1940, so long before significant demand for popular maths and science t
Miguel Costa
Nothing particularly useful, but it was surprisingly entertaining and relatable.
Mar 24, 2016 Tapasya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think I've grown as a scientist/researcher after reading this book. I would give this book 6 stars if I could. It is indeed a beautiful read, very well-balanced, and one of the best essays I've read on theory versus practice in science. My reactions went from "what a snob" to "I completely disagree with you" to "how humble and honest" to "yeah, I've been in denial".

I cannot believe that one person can do justice to all of those feelings in under 100 pages. My favorite chapters are 7, 15, 26-2
Jan 12, 2014 Rajesh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I have never done anything 'useful'. No discovery of mine has made, or is likely to make, directly or indirectly, for good or ill, the least difference to the amenity of the world." - G. H. Hardy

Hardy was a mentor and confidant of the great mathematician Ramanujan and was a great mathematician in his own right. His mild manners belied his idiosyncrasy and appreciation of genius, and this book is a representation of that. Hardy discusses the worth and weight of mathematics as a creative endeavou
How wonderful it is to contact with passionate people! Or, in this case, someone who claims to no longer be passionate, but still transpires passion in his speech. I have always had a penchant for what makes people tick.
How delightful to read about the beauty of mathematical patterns, the harmonious way in which ideas ought to fit together, about the seriousness of a theorem and the significance of the ideas which it connects, about the permanence of mathematical achievement and what makes a goo
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Godfrey Harold Hardy FRS was a prominent English mathematician, known for his achievements in number theory and mathematical analysis.

Non-mathematicians usually know him for A Mathematician's Apology, his essay from 1940 on the aesthetics of mathematics. The apology is often considered one of the best insights into the mind of a working mathematician written for the layman.

His relationship as ment
More about G.H. Hardy...

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“A mathematician, like a painter or poet, is a maker of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made with ideas.” 32 likes
“Reductio ad absurdum, which Euclid loved so much, is one of a mathematician's finest weapons. It is a far finer gambit than any chess play: a chess player may offer the sacrifice of a pawn or even a piece, but a mathematician offers the game.” 27 likes
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