Hungarian mathematician George Pólya (1887-1985) was asked—it is not known when—why there were so many great Hungarian mathematicians. He replied:

*“Generally speaking, mathematics is the cheapest science. Unlike physics or chemistry, it does not require any expensive equipment. All one needs for mathemtics is a pencil and paper.”*

“Mathematics is the second-cheapest department at any college” is a related joke.

Wikipedia: George Pólya

*George Pólya* /ˈpoʊl.jə/ (Hungarian: *Pólya György*, pronounced [ˈpoːjɒ ˈɟørɟ]; December 13, 1887 – September 7, 1985) was a Hungarian mathematician. He was a professor of mathematics from 1914 to 1940 at ETH Zürich and from 1940 to 1953 at Stanford University. He made fundamental contributions to combinatorics, number theory, numerical analysis and probability theory. He is also noted for his work in heuristics and mathematics education.

Google Books

*Impact of Science on Society*

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Volumes 16-17

1968

Pg. 38:

Mr. Le Lionnais has pointed out that mathematics is the cheapest science.

Google Books

*Mathematics Magazine*

Volume 60

1987

Pg. 267:

When I asked Pólya what accounted for the development of so many oustanding Hungarian mathematicians from the period around the turn of the century, he gae the following reasons:

Generally speaking, mathematics is the cheapest science. Unlike physics or chemistry, it does not require any expensive equipment. All one needs for mathemtics is a pencil and paper.(Hungary never enjoyed the status of a wealthy country.)

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*Chemistry in Society*

May 22, 2014 ·

“ Mathematics is the cheapest

science. Unlike physics or

chemistry, it does not require any

expensive equipment. All one

needs for mathematics is a pencil

and paper.

George Pólya

Twitter

That_Zim_Guy

@MosiOaTunya

“Mathematics is the cheapest science. Unlike physics or chemistry, all one needs for mathematics is a pencil and paper.”

― George Pólya

4:02 PM - 14 Nov 2014

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*Educational Quotations*

February 9, 2015

“Mathematics is the cheapest science. Unlike physics or chemistry, it does not require any expensive equipment. All one needs for mathematics is a pencil and paper.”

― George Pólya