The calculus is the story this [the Western] world first told itself as it became the modern world.

Arithmetic is where the content lies, and not logic; but logic prompts certainty, and not arithmetic.

An axiomatic system establishes a reverberating relationship between what a mathematician assumes (the axioms) and what he or she can derive (the theorems). In the best of circumstances, the relationship is clear enough so that the mathematician can submit his or her reasoning to an informal checklist, passing from step to step with the easy confidence the steps are small enough so that he cannot be embarrassed nor she tripped up.

An axiomatic system comprises axioms and theorems and requires a certain amount of hand-eye coordination before it works. A formal system comprises an explicit list of symbols, an explicit set of rules governing their cohabitation, an explicit list of axioms, and, above all, an explicit list of rules explicitly governing the steps that the mathematician may take in going from assumptions to conclusions. No appeal to meaning nor to intuition. Symbols lose their referential powers; inferences become mechanical.

For the most part, it is true, ordinary men and women regard mathematics with energetic distaste, counting its concepts as rhapsodic as cauliflower. This is a mistake-there is no other word. Where else can the restless human mind find means to tie the infinite in a finite bow?

The definition of a limit is essentially his [Cauchy's] creation and is as much of a miracle as those fantastic Swiss clocks of the period in which hundreds of gleaming cogs are made to celebrate not only the time and date but the phases of the moon.

At the beginning of the new millennium, we still do not know why mathematics is true and whether it is certain. But we know what we do not know in an immeasurably richer way than we did. And learning this has been a remarkable achievement-among the greatest and least-known of the modern era.

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