John Edensor Littlewood

English mathematician

John Edensor Littlewood (9 June 1885 – 6 September 1977) was a British mathematician.

John Edensor Littlewood


Littlewood's Miscellany (1986)Edit

Littlewood's Miscellany is a revised and expanded version of A Mathematician's Miscellany, published 1953.

  • A good mathematical joke is better, and better mathematics, than a dozen mediocre papers.
    • "Introduction to A Mathematician's Miscellany", p. 24.
  • 'The surprising thing about this paper is that a man who could write it--would.'
    • Note quotation marks: Littlewood is repeating a joke without attribution. "Cross-purposes, Unconscious Assumptions, Howlers, Misprints, etc.", p. 59.
  • I read in the proof-sheets of Hardy on Ramanujan: 'As someone said, each of the positive integers was one of his personal friends.' My reaction was, 'I wonder who said that; I wish I had.' In the next proof-sheets I read (what now stands): 'It was Littlewood who said...' (What had happened was that Hardy had received the remark in silence and with a poker face, and I wrote it off as a dud....)
    • "Cross-purposes, Unconscious Assumptions, Howlers, Misprints, etc.", p. 61.
  • I recall once saying that when I had given the same lecture several times I couldn't help feeling that they really ought to know it by now.
    • "Academic Life", p. 135.


  • To illustrate to what extent Hardy and Littlewood in the course of the years came to be considered as the leaders of recent English mathematical research, I may report what an excellent colleague once jokingly said: 'Nowadays, there are only three really great English mathematicians: Hardy, Littlewood, and Hardy-Littlewood.'
    • Harald Bohr, "Looking Backward". Collected Mathematical Works. 1. Copenhagen: Dansk Matematisk Forening. 1952. pp. xiii-xxxiv. OCLC 3172542. , p. xxvii

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