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The Language of Mathematics: Making the Invisible Visible

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  259 ratings  ·  22 reviews
"The great book of nature," said Galileo, "can be read only by those who know the language in which it was written. And this language is mathematics." In The Language of Mathematics, award-winning author Keith Devlin reveals the vital role mathematics plays in our eternal quest to understand who we are and the world we live in. More than just the study of numbers, mathemat ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 13th 2000 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1998)
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I still don't get higher mathematics, but now I have a much better idea of what I'm not getting.
So Hakim
For some reason, mathematics has been thought simply as "science of numbers". Or more generally, "that certain art about dealing with numbers". This book, though, set out to give better definition.

Right off the bat the author says it. What is math? Math is, in a way, "A Science of Pattern".

A particular study was classified as mathematics not so much because of what was studied but because of how it was studied—that is, the methodology used. It was only within the last thirty years or so that a
Bob Young
I thought this was a good book but it was rather 'hit and miss' with me...probably more of issue with me than the book. The author does a fairly good job of sticking to concepts (I found his supposition that math is the study of patterns to be interesting) and shying away from equations. However, as a book on mathematics equations tend to be unavoidable and it is during the 'equation parts' of the book that I think it comes up short. With a background in engineering, I didn't have much trouble f ...more
Alex Lee
This is a fairly concise book. Devlin attempts to show us the construction of mathematics by its application and by demonstrating its conceptual genealogy. Of course, history of how a field grows is going to reveal its construction to us, although the language itself is at the highest level, hopelessly erudite.

Devlin's prose is concise, easy to read and yet sacrifices very little complexity for its clarity. The task he has undertaken however is a difficult one. In striving to show us applicabili
Maurizio Codogno
Divulgare la matematica non è affatto semplice. Il problema è trovare il giusto equilibrio tra la complessità intrinseca dei temi trattati, che richiedono tutto un armamentario di notazioni e tecnicalità anche solo per essere comprese, e la famosa massima "ogni formula matematica in un libro ne dimezza le vendite". Devlin c'è riuscito in questo libro? Non troppo, direi. Non so se il guaio sia dovuto al fatto che il libro è la revisione "per non scientificamente alfabetizzati" di un volume uscito ...more
The book is an amazing journey through the history of mathematics that touches upon and connects discoveries and inventions in number theory, reasoning (logic), calculus, shape (geometries), position (topology), symmetry (groups), probability, and (finally) universe (atomic particles, quantum theory, etc.)

The historical view provides enough details of folks (quite of few of them we studied in school) and how they went about the inventions. The narrative connects various dots (folks and theories)
Tomi J
The book takes the reader into a brief journey through the history of mathematics and goes through many of the important matematical methods and theories and their practical applications. Reader also gets to know a bit also about the renowned mathematicians behind them. Easily accessible low-overhead content fits perfectly just for casual reading especially if you're into mathematics but want to take a break from calculus, but still want to read something inspiring on mathematics.
Vilém Zouhar
Probably the best book about mathematics I've read so far. I wouldn't recommend it to people advanced in maths, but rather to beginners. It covers the evolution of mathematics throughout the ages in a beautiful abstract way. Definietly a must read for someone interested in anything even remotely related to mathematics.
Some parts were incomprehensible or even tedious for me (I'm looking at you, geometry), but overall it's an amazing book.
Tony Robinson
I thought this was a really well written book with helpful insight into the underlying principles of mathematics as well as its very interesting history. Defiantly made me appreciate my studies much more.
Rene Stein
Kniha, jejímž hlavním rysem "nevyrovnanost". Nevyrovnanost ve zpracování témat, v obtížnosti kapitol a ve způsobu vedení výkladu.
Počáteční kapitoly jsou napsány poměrně slušně, i když výklad výrokové a predikátové logiky mi přišel dost odfláknutý a pro nezasvěcené nepřístupný. Problémem dalších kapitol je, že nechápu, kdo by měl být jejich čtenář. Pokud o problematice něco málo víte, nedovíte se nic nového, pokud nic nevíte, pochybuju, že vám někdy zbytečně komprimovaný výklad něco dá. Poslední
I liked this book. It was pretty much just what I was looking for when I picked it up. One of the reviews says it's "the perfect book for people who have questions about math they've always wanted to ask but were afraid they wouldn't understand the answers to" and I would definitely agree with this.

One of the things I liked best about this book was how well it showed the relationship between both the different fields of mathematics, and between mathematics and other fields. It seems like these r
Ken Gloeckner
Extremely interesting and surprisingly easy to read! Thoroughly enjoyed this broad (and acknowledgedly brief) survey of the history of mathematics and some of the big ideas and current trends.
Elvin Ngo
An excellent reminder of how awesome math can be.
Jose lana
The beauty of mathematics , good
Not bad - sort of an introduction to the major themes of mathematics. It has some history but it doesn't get bogged down by trying to stay chronological or include every historical detail. It sort of "whets the appetite" for studying math beyond the textbook.

It's good. It was fun. It just didn't grab me. I think I wanted more detail. I felt like it was little too popularized or "dumbed down". And yet, I didn't feel it was "sparkly" enough to appeal to students.

Entertaining but not practical for
I really enjoyed this book. As a mathematician I was fairly familiar with many of the problems posed as classic milestones in mathematics achievement. It was cool to see that my undergraduate education was on the mark. He didn't over do the diagrams and they certainly added to the text.

After reading the prologue and first chapter of the book, I felt that Devlin was able to put into words many of the feeling I had about mathematics, why I found it intrinsically beautiful, and why I enjoyed doing
Ricardo Guerreiro
For the curious on how the world "works" but not inclined to study Physical sciences, this is a great and enjoyable read. Full of light and simplified explanations of deep and purely scientific subjects as well as daily life "for granted" themes that most of us don't even think of for a second to see what's behind, conceptually.
Katia Nosenko
It was wonderful probably up to the discussion of Probability Theory. After that the last few chapters felt somehow rushed through. But i enjoyed very much insights into the number theory, topology and the history of Math. Very interesting but i doubt someone totally without mathematical knowledge can fully appreciate it.
Arun Mahendrakar
Yes, I did feel real sad after reading this book. Reason: Why weren't we taught Mathematics the way the author teaches in this book?

Author's work on making users understand Calculus is simply amazing in this book. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to be in touch with and for those who're 'afraid' of Math.
So many books on History of Mathematics and philosophical approach but this is outstanding work by Keith. K.J.Devlin actually showed how one can see mathematics in real life and how mathematician thinks and come up with ideas. Most inspiring book of all times.
Very interesting, but not quite as accessible to the lay person as the various reviews suggest. Most of it is accessible to anyone with little or no math background, but there are highly technical sections. Just skip those!
Really just...for a math book not only was this an incredibly enjoyable read, but it also taught me quite a bit about math theory in general.
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Dr. Keith Devlin is a co-founder and Executive Director of the university's H-STAR institute, a Consulting Professor in the Department of Mathematics, a co-founder of the Stanford Media X research network, and a Senior Researcher at CSLI. He is a World Economic Forum Fellow and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His current research is focused on the use of differ ...more
More about Keith J. Devlin...

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