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King of Infinite Space: Donald Coxeter, the Man Who Saved Geometry

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  83 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
"There is perhaps no better way to prepare for the scientific breakthroughs of tomorrow than to learn the language of geometry." —Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe

The word "geometry" brings to mind an array of mathematical images: circles, triangles, the Pythagorean Theorem. Yet geometry is so much more than shapes and numbers; indeed, it governs much of our liv
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 19th 2006 by Walker Books (first published January 1st 2006)
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Jul 04, 2008 Bruce rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: admirers of Donald Coxeter? Maybe?
It pains me to dislike a well-written book. The writing is elegant, concise, eloquent, appears thoroughly researches, and the book well-structured. While I was reading it, I wasn't struck with sufficient annoyance or revulsion that I felt compelled to, say, throw it across the room. But so little was I moved to care about its subject (H.M.S. "Donald" Coxeter, the "King of 20th Century Geometry," inventor of Coxeter diagrams, Coxeter groups, polytope cataloguer, and academic/author of 3 influenti ...more
May 12, 2010 Scottekim rated it really liked it
Siobhan Roberts writes an arresting biography of a key 20th century mathematician. In most authors hands it would have been a dull read, but she enhances the biography with the whole drama of geometry being neglected by contemporary mathematicians (it still is), and tells a wonderful anecdote of accompanying Coxeter on his last public talk. As a fan of polyhedra and symmetry, Coxeter is an important figure to me, and I'm grateful he got the biography he deserved. A documentary is about to be rel ...more
May 01, 2009 Joel rated it it was amazing
Man, this is just one of those books that makes you realize that you either have a talent that you're born with that you know about or you don't. Like, either you're mapping platonic solids in eleven dimensions for fun at age ten or your not. I wasn't, but I THOROUGHLY enjoyed reading about the life of Donald Coxeter -- a man who had it from the beginning and who I learned a great deal from by line-by-lining this very dense, but very rewarding book.
Drew Vonada-Smith
Jun 23, 2011 Drew Vonada-Smith rated it did not like it
LIKE this topic! Boring nevertheless. I dont care in what @#$% shape he likes his toast cut!
Tom Adams
Mar 03, 2012 Tom Adams rated it liked it
This book tells the story of an important but largely unknown mathematician. Roberts is a fine writer, and I enjoyed reading her stories about Coxeter: his history, his work, the people he influenced. There's not much technical information here (at least not in any depth), but there is a great deal about the history of geometry, particularly in the 20th century. It's a fascinating subject, and I was encouraged to look for more of Coxeter's writings (I had already read a couple of his books and f ...more
Maurizio Codogno
Probabilmente il nome di H.S.M.Coxeter non dice molto alla maggior parte delle persone, ma confido che tra i miei lettori la percentuale salga, non foss'altro che per tutte le citazioni ai suoi lavori fatte da Martin Gardner. Questa è la sua biografia, che percorre tutti i novantacinque anni di vita dell'uomo che da solo mantenne viva la fiammella della geometria classica nel corso del XX secolo. Avviso subito che il testo non è affatto pensato per un matematico, ma piuttosto per una persona che ...more
Nov 11, 2013 Exo added it
Very disappointed! Picked this up on a whim during a library trip. I adored Simon Singh's book, "Fermat's Enigma", and expected this to be similar.

However, the writing was poor -- it read more like a long college term paper than a real book -- and there was no central story to build this book around. I read 30 pages of disorganized mathematical anecdotes and promptly gave up.

Additionally (and frankly), Roberts does not have the professional knowledge to evaluate the source material. She's a jour
Jun 21, 2010 Dav rated it really liked it
A great biography with enough technical overview on geometry to whet your whistle. It's not a sensational airport-bookstore sort of biography, which I guess at least one reviewer here prefers, but I found it engaging, enlightening and a joy to read. It spawned many side trips to Wikipedia for further exploration, and I checked out a copy of one of Coxeter's books to see how different classical geometry is from the analytical geometry I took in 8th grade.
Feb 05, 2009 Bill rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I really enjoyed reading this. It wasn't an addictive read, but it did confuse me enough to make me think I liked math.

Coxeter did fascinating work with geometric shapes in multiple dimensions, including more than 3 dimensions. He divised a device with mirrors to replicate what it would be like to see in 4 dimensions.
"Then again, as is said of pure mathematics, if it is beautiful and elegant, if it is good and profound, there is always the latent promise that it will open something up. Eventually, almost inevitably -- often inadvertently and unbeknownst to its inventor -- a beautiful piece of pure mathematics will fall into the pattern of crystallizing with an application in science."
Dec 26, 2011 JodiP rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This was a thoroughly enjoyable book about a subject that could have been very, very dry. Ms.Roberts is one to keep an eye out for, as she makes the people and the subject matter come alive. She helps us see the playfulness inherent in mathematics.
John C. Fries
Apr 20, 2016 John C. Fries rated it really liked it
This is the first of my trio of books related to mathematical visualization.
Donald Coxeter kept alive the study of geometry, during a roughly fifty year period in the last century in which the dominant approaches to mathematics excluded the visual in favor of the algebraic.
Elliot Epstein
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May 19, 2011 Burkhard rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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