"Just combinatorics" quotes (a collection by Igor Pak)

This is a collection of "just combinatorics" quotes by various authors, casually referring to Combinatorics in a dismissive manner. Some of these may have been simply poorly worded sentences which read unfortunate nonetheless. This is a complement to our earlier collection of quotes describing combinatorics (some positive, some negative and some on point). For most disparaging quotes there, see quotes by George Dantzig and Jean Dieudonné.

P.S. I compiled these collection while writing this blog post, but expanded it later.

Compare these with the following quote by Paul Gunnells:

Never refer to any mathematical problem by "But it’s just combinatorics".

This is reported by Anders Björner in this tribute (2006). Unfortunately, the original advice is aimed only at students talking to Robert MacPherson. We believe this advice is more universal. We do not believe there is any context or any circumstance at all when "just combinatorics" can be used.

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Last updated: 5/26/2023.