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Preview — Prime Obsession by John Derbyshire
Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics
An anecdote from Lambert's biography of Georges Lemaître which may amuse mathematicians. At one stage, young Lemaître was being supervised by the famous number theorist de Vallée-Po...more
I gave it five stars because despite this, it was a real page turner. The prose is light and clear, and the pace is good. Reminds me of James Gleick's Chaos and Genius, at least i...more
All non-trivial zeros of the zeta function have real part one-half.
By the time you finish the book, that enigmatic statement along with the math behind it will make sense,you will have a deep understanding of the significance of TRH (namely how it is connected to the distribution of prime numbers) and you will have a feel for the ric...more
In August 1859 Bernhard Riemann, a little-known 32-year old mathematician, presented a paper to the Berlin Academy titled: "On the Number of Prime Numbers Less Than a Given Quantity." In the middle of that paper, Riemann made an incidental remark a guess, a hypothesis. What he tossed out to the assembled mathematicians that day has proven to be almost cruelly compelling to countless scholars in the ensuing years. Today, after 150 years of careful research and exhaustive study, the questi
While I'm not sure that I agree with the author's claim that someone who does not understand the RH after reading this book wi...more
Seemed somewhat as though an editor favouring a lower page count rushed a dump of all remaining explanation in the last couple of chapters - dramatic increase in pace. Toward the end there are some odd mixes of assumed knowledge too.
The lazy part in me took this up for light reading as an alternative to working out the maths from Wikipedia, and I wasn't totally disappointed if a little bored. I wasn't familiar with the concept of "domain expansion" of a...more
The author's politics are thankfully not on display in Prime Obsession, nor is his trademark crankiness. However, there is a certain sense of stubbornness and...more
This is a really good book. It attempts to explain the Riemann Hypothesis ("RH") to anyone with only "high school" mathematical knowledge, or maybe a little bit more. It also contains a lot of historical material on the mathematicians involved and makes many delightful observations and asides on the way.
The book includes a lot of mathematical reasoning. But the author avoids making it a mathematical text-book by simplifying, cheating, and joking his way along. This is a very refreshing and effec...more
Writing a boo...more
But primes are strange as well - there doesn't appear to be any order to their appearance. The higher you count, the less often you run into them and you'll never stop seeing them. But can we tell when the next one will occur? In other words, is there some sort of p...more
I can't say I kept up with all of the math. The first third was a review, the second third I felt like I should understand because I had it in college but hadn't used since, and the...more
Well done on this book which was outstanding throughout both presentation of math and in its history.
However, people deserve to know that the author was fired from the conservative National Review for white supremacist statements and even writes for VDARE, a white nationalist anti-immigration group.
I scoured the book critically for expressions of his racist position, and I could find...more
Reminded me of matrices and eigenvalues, which we did for maths O level back in the 70s! Need to go back and look more at this.
Derbyshire's writing has piqued my curiosity and interest in both the different fields of mathematics and the principal historical figures of the Reimann Hypothesis. His writing is so...more