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# The Music of the Primes: Searching to Solve the Greatest Mystery in Mathematics

In 1859, German mathematician Bernhard Riemann presented a paper to the Berlin Academy that would forever change the history of mathematics. The subject was the mystery of prime numbers. At the heart of the presentation was an idea that Riemann had not yet proved but one that baffles mathematicians to this day.

Solving the Riemann Hypothesis could change the way we do busin ...more

Solving the Riemann Hypothesis could change the way we do busin ...more

Paperback, 335 pages

Published
April 27th 2004
by Harper Perennial
(first published 2003)

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## Community Reviews

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The main subject of the book is the Riemann Hypothesis. You have to be patient if you don’t know what it is. It takes about 100 pages of the book to get to the point where it (sort of) tells you what it is. There’s a particular complex function called zeta function. The zeros of this function can be used to correct a formula by Gauss that approximates the number of prime numbers less than ...more

But this book has a serious flaw. The math was really dumbed down ...more

it was at the summer of 2009 when i was first introduced to the beauty and strength of the primes when the instructor asked us to implement some factorization problems in my second programming course, it was at that class where he shed a little light on the true beauty of primes talking about RSA encryption which is discussed in a late chapter of the book. almost one year later, i had the chance t ...more

May 13, 2009
Andrea
rated it
5 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
Alysia, Gwen, Robbin

Recommended to Andrea by:
Sally

Shelves:
math,
scientific-journalism

You are not going to believe that a book on a math subject would be hard to put down but this book is brilliantly written. I started reading this with doubts I would actually finish and I keep getting hooked into reading the next chapter and the next chapter. The author writes the whole book like this is THE GREATEST treasure hunt ever. He starts out by talking about the million dollar prize for the person who can prove Riemann's Hypothesis. Then he tells the story of how people discovered littl
...more

Nicked this off my dad during my A levels, ended up buying my own copy and taking it to university because I wanted to lend it out to people without him getting upset. It's accessible, broad and fascinating - perfect for the enthusiastic amateur and armchair mathematician.

For the record, you may write "enthusiastic amateur" on my tombstone.

May 16, 2009
Nina Tandon
is currently reading it

I really like the quote from Weber "When the globe is covered with a set of railroads and telegraph wires, this net will render services comparable to those of the nervous system in the human body, partly as a means of transport, partly as a means for the propagation of ideas and sensations with the speed of lightning." For me, having grown up with the internet and extant high-speed transportation systems, I was attracted to physiology because of the analogy I saw between the "outside" and "insi
...more

May 02, 2010
Aaron Humphrey
rated it
4 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
non-fiction,
library

I was fascinated with prime numbers myself for years. Many of my classmates could (if they had been paying attention) attest to the fact that I spent much of my class time, in high school math and many university courses, factorizing random 7- and 8-digit numbers, often when I really should have been paying attention and taking notes. I had the primes up to at least 200 memorized. I often wondered if there were easier ways to factorize, and I'm still not convinced there are, though apparently th
...more

This is the story of an outcast, a loner, who in his ten paged paper made a little hunch. It, also is, a story of an indian clerk who believed that a goddess was responsible for his contributions to mathematics. The story of a city which was home to some of the greatest mathematicians. A story of how the atoms of arithmetic lie at the heart of modern e-business.

But most of al ...more

Sep 27, 2011
Jishnu Bhattacharya
rated it
5 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
popular-science,
non-fiction

The Music of the Primes is an amazing introduction to the Riemann hypothesis. I'm a bit biased here, since I like math, and have some idea about the subject matter. If you know a bit about prime counting, logarithms, modular arithmetic and quantum mechanics, you can't put this down. Even the people who don't like math might find it interesting, it is so well written. The language is lucid, and even complicated mathematical concepts are presented in a way that is easy to understand. In fact, he n
...more

There seems to be an inherent need in mathematics to rationalise and predict with a level of accuracy that goes beyond the normal. Only if the sun can be proved t ...more

Who knew prime numbers (and mathematicians!) were so fascinating?

**The Music of the Primes**is a non-technical book which traces the study of prime numbers and the major characters who have made contributions to our understanding of them.

The primes aren't the only theme here. Along the way we find the shifting tides in mathematics from foundational issues to the practical usefulness of what were once considered purely academic pursuits. Some of ...more

Sure, the maths itself isn't delved into in much detail, but there are endless resources out there fo ...more

However, this book fell a bit short for me. Singh had appendices that explained a bit further some of the maths that would halt the narrative if put into the text. Du Sautoy just leaves things hanging in the air ...more

Essentially it was a lesson on the history of mathematics, specifically number theory and the search for theories and proofs relating to the prime numbers. It wasn't terribly interesting until we got to investigating practical applications, which was rather near the end of the book. It wasn't a particularly difficult read in terms of the information presented, but it wasn't exactly gripping either. I fee ...more

Dec 02, 2014
David
rated it
4 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
non-fiction-mathematics

It took me a while to read this but it was very enjoyable for someone who has a bit of a thing about maths at the moment. It tells of the human fascination with prime numbers (really?); the building blocks of mathematics and especially with the search to find a pattern to predict their frequency. The Riemann Hypothesis is the best description so far; proposed in 1859, there is a million pounds awaiting the person who finally proves it.

The book deals with all the major characters who have contrib ...more

The book deals with all the major characters who have contrib ...more

Con il passare degli anni, ed un approccio meno rigoroso alla materia, ho cominciato a percepirne l'armonia e ad imparare la bellezza di un ordine così misterioso.

Ebbene sì, la più esatta delle scienze esa ...more

Il tutto è naratto in maniera interessante e a volte, grazie a personalità tanto geniali quanto stravaganti (come Hardy), anche molto divertente. Per nulla pesante e praticamente non se ...more

I've been interested in numbers ever since I can remember. Math was always my favorite subject in school, and I majored in it in college. I don't do a lot of math anymore, with the exception of the odd algebra problem on my page a day calendar, but I enjoy reading about the history of math.

A couple of years ago my son gave me a book on the Reimann Hypothesis, Prime Obsession Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics. It was a fascinating book, but had a lot of math that ...more

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Marcus Peter Francis du Sautoy, OBE is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford.

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Jan 25, 2013 07:45AM