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The Riemann Hypothesis: The Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  197 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Since 1859, when the shy German mathematician Bernhard Riemann wrote an eight-page article giving a possible answer to a problem that had tormented mathematical minds for centuries, the world's greatest mathematicians have been fascinated, infuriated, and obsessed with proving the Riemann hypothesis. They speak of it in awed terms and consider it to be an even more difficu ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 26th 2004 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2002)
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The Riemann Hypothesis is easily one of the most important unsolved problems in mathematics. Unfortunately, unlike Fermat's Last Theorem or even the Poincaré conjecture, the Riemann Hypothesis doesn't lend itself well to being put in layman's terms. Even still, Sabbagh gives quite the valiant effort in his book, and in the process takes us into the strange world of cutting-edge mathematics.

Sabbagh's trip through the Riemann Hypothesis is a slow, methodical one: he starts out with some required f
This book sparked my interest in books about math history, mathematicians, and numerology. it makes clear descriptions of abstract concepts, and glimpses into the psyches of some of the most interesting mathematicians in the world.

afterwards i moved onto books on Fermat, Newton, the concept of Zero, and famous diagrammatical proofs.

i just love two-dimensional illustrations of three-dimensional concepts like infinity.
The least math-like math book ever written. Thoroughly enjoyable for anybody.
(disclaimer- alcohol was consumed during the creation of this review, ideas may not be logically coherent).

is very well known for his hypothesis. This book about Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann has taught me that the behaviour of the zeta function is pretty serious business. This is a zeta function: it

-> ζ(s) <-

where s is a complex variable. If the real part of this variable is greater than one then ζ(s) is defined as the sum of the convergent series n 1 n^-s (a convergent series is co
Could have done with a little more mathematics
If you don't like math, your're probably not even looking at this. So I'll start from the assumption that you have at least some appreciation for math. That's all you need to get a good sense of the Reimann Hypothesis - Sabbagh starts at a basic enough level, explaining imaginary numbers for example, and doesn't turn into a textbook. The story is interesting and enlightening, although, since Reimann hasn't been proved, there's no glorious Aha! at the end. Well written, and a good introduction to ...more
I enjoyed this book back when I read it. It gave a nice history of Dr. Riemann, and a reasonable overview of the hypothesis. At one point I think I even almost grasped the whole of it, though it slipped away almost as soon as it had appeared. So I still don't really understand the Riemann Hypothesis, at least not in any deep way. I guess that's because reading popular science isn't a substitute for taking several courses in advanced number theory :-). One day, perhaps. The primes /are/ fascinati ...more
Nov 09, 2008 Andrew rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: math
The funny thing about this book, for me, is that it claims to simply be a study of how the Riemann Hypothesis has been scrutinized, fought over and beloved by mathematicians. It is not supposed to be analysis of the theory itself. And yet for me, a non-mathematician, it has gotten me the closest to understanding the R.H.

And the anecdotes are simply great.
Chris Aldrich
An interesting book with regard to some of the personalities involved, but it didn't have a great deal of insight into the mathematics. The first three chapters were most interesting and the remainder were fairly useless due to lack of mathematical sophistication.
OK, especially if you don't know much about math (although you might then be unlikely to read the book!), but Derbyshire's book is a lot more informative (though a tougher read).
Benjamin Law
This book was more about the author than the topic. Some of the material is good, but the book minus the author talking about himself is about half as long.
Jon Olsen
Although written for the layman, you'd have to be pretty mathy or wanna be mathy (like me) to read this for enjoyment. I liked it quite a bit.
Frank Peters
A fun book about a subject that the author could not quite get me excited about. But, he was a good story teller.
A challenge unless one has a solid math background.
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