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# Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics

In 1859, Bernhard Riemann, a little-known thirty-two year old mathematician, made a hypothesis while presenting a paper to the Berlin Academy titled “On the Number of Prime Numbers Less Than a Given Quantity.” Today, after 150 years of careful research and exhaustive study, the Riemann Hyphothesis remains unsolved, with a one-million-dollar prize earmarked for the first
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Paperback, 422 pages

Published
by Plume
(first published January 1st 2003)

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## Reader Q&A

## Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)

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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-Pou ...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

*Prime Obsession*deals with mathematical concepts magnitudes of order more complex than those brainiacs could ever wish to comprehend. John Derbyshire describes the Riemann Hypothesis (RH) and the mathematical titans that have tried unsuccessfully to prove the hy ...more

Certainly its one of the books out there in world - to enlighten!

*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 terms of mathematics, this book covered some really intriguing ground. The Riemann Hypothesis is fascinating, and its potential applications, particularly with respect to nuclear physics, are definitely fun to think about.

However, the author had an unfortunate tendency to disparage and downplay the actual mathematics, which I found weird and off-putting. This is, after all, a book primarily concerned with MATHEMATICS. Surely the reader won’t be too averse to the subject? Yet here i ...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

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

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

Writing a boo ...more

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

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

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

To those who feel the book may be too narrowly focused to be of interest: rest assured there is a lot more covered than the title eludes to. A very interesting historical context that include fu ...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.

Perfect complement ...more

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“I tell you, with complex numbers you can do anything.”
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“It was in 1742 that Christian Goldbach put forward his famous conjecture that every even number greater than 2 can be expressed as the sum of two primes.”
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