The Theory of Numbers has always been regarded as one of the most obviously useless branches of Pure Mathematics. The accusation is one against which there is no valid defence; and it is never more just than when directed against the parts of the theory which are more particularly concerned with primes. A science is said to be useful if its development tends to accentuate the existing inequalities in the distribution of wealth, or more directly promote the destruction of human life. The theory of prime numbers satisfies no such criteria. Those who pursue it will, if they are wise, make no attempt to justify their interest in a subject so trivial and so remote, and will console themselves with the thought that the greatest mathematicians of all ages have found in it a mysterious attraction impossible to resist.
--G.H. Hardy, Prime Number, British Association Report (1915), 350--354, also Collected Works, Vol. II, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1967, 14--18.
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