I have felt for a long time that we teach mathematics, especially in high school, in a way that fails to show what mathematics really is (it's not jusI have felt for a long time that we teach mathematics, especially in high school, in a way that fails to show what mathematics really is (it's not just about numbers, arithmetic, and, by extension, algebra). We tend to teach stuff that students do not relate to: "Two trains start at the same time from Chicago and New York City, and speeds of 30mph and 60mph, respectively. How long before they meet?" Why do we think that students care about such matters, and too often they seem contrived (and in this case old fashioned, because who uses trains in the USA?). Wouldn't it be better to try to engage students in the magic that mathematics can bring? And, yes, it can bring magic! But only if we try to show them how wonderful mathematics can be, and how diverse its applications are.
A few years ago, I taught Computer Science at a local college. The Computer Science department was, as it often is, in the Mathematics department (which, if you think about it, isn't an obvious place for it). There was a great debate among the Mathematics faculty about whether to teach Mathematics in a rigorous way, or instead to teach an application-oriented approach. This was mostly driven by the choice of textbook, and the textbooks of the time for the "rigorous approach" and the application-oriented approach were very different from each other. In particular, the application-oriented books were significantly watered down from those showing the rigorous approach. I felt that we should be teaching Mathematics somewhat rigorously, but with a definite bias to its applications because students, for the most part, were only interested in how they might use Mathematics in their lives. If it seemed too far away from their personal experiences, they lost interest and motivation very quickly. It seemed a real loss that there were seemingly no mathematics books that combined the two "approaches".
In the rigorous approach, mathematics was taught with a very strong emphasis on proofs. That was not how I was taught mathematics, probably because, in high school, I studied physics and mathematics at the same time, and mathematics was seen as a set of techniques used in physics. Time and time again, we would learn something in Physics, and, pretty much contemporaneously, a topic in Mathematics that could quickly be applied to Physics. We never doubted that Mathematics was relevant to our world. But an English Lit, or History, major would, I recognize, be a rather different kettle of fish.
Later, at University, where I was majoring in Physics, and, since I was at a British university, the subjects I studied were quite limited: Essentially, Physics, Pure Mathematics, and Applied Mathematics. Applied Mathematics turned out to be sort of a more formal study of Physics -- especially Mechanics (I remember lots of ladders leaning against walls, etc.). Pure Mathematics was rather more formal, but I still don't remember lots of formal proofs -- but I do remember so-called epsilon/delta proofs, which I never seemed to understand the relevance of. Perhaps I would today, with a little more experience under my belt?
So, when I encountered this intriguingly titled book, I wondered how successful the author would be at conveying the true nature of Mathematics, using cooking and recipe analogies. I believe she did a great job! She tries hard to show that Mathematics isn't just numbers/digits/arithmetic/algebra, and also how a mathematician looks at the world, and how to solve a problem, prove a theorem, etc. One thing that does impress me is the diversity of references to applications and mindsets; the author is very well-read and well-prepared. She clearly looks at the world and sees opportunities to apply mathematics to so many different aspects of life, and refers to quite recent events and characters. (She was born and educated in England, and holds tenure at the University of Sheffield, so many of her examples have a British flavor.) I found her approach very refreshing. She begins almost every chapter with a cooking recipe -- a real one -- and then uses analogy to compare what she typically does when cooking that recipe with how she approaches mathematics.
Some people seem to have thought that they should review this book on the quality of these recipes -- they basically seem to have missed the entire point. It's the analogies that are important.
The author studies Category Theory, which I had not previously heard of. Apparently, "... category theory uses abstraction to make it possible to state and prove many intricate and subtle mathematical results in these fields in a much simpler way." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categor...) . Since Mathematics uses abstraction to seek out commonality in order to generalize concepts and apply them to other aspects of Mathematics, I suppose you could look at Category Theory as the Mathematics of Mathematics (see the title of the book). It seems that even mathematicians are not too familiar with (or are suspicious of?) Category Theory; there aren't too many Category Theorists around.
Anyway, the author uses analogy in a very effective way. She positively oozes enthusiasm about her mathematics, and her cooking. She is also really interested in the popularization of Mathematics -- in other words, trying to get more people to understand what Mathematics really is, how it can be useful to people in their everyday lives, and how to engage and interest people in Mathematics who wouldn't typically think it was "for them".
The book has two parts:
Part I: Math
1. What Is Math?
2. Abstraction
3. Principles
4. Process
5. Generalization
6. Internal vs. External
7. Axiomatization
8. What Mathematics Is
and:
Part II: Category Theory
9. What Is Category Theory?
10. Context
11. Relationships
12. Structure
13. Sameness
14. Universal Properties
15. What Category Theory Is
Sounds a little dry to you? The chapter titles certainly do, but her writing makes things very accessible, and often amusing. And, at times, she brings in topics you would never expect.
Part I is all about explaining Mathematics using cooking/recipe analogies. I found it to be very effective, and readable by just about anyone.
Part II is about Category Theory, still using cooking/recipes and analogy. Admittedly, things get a bit heavier here, so perhaps need more effort to read.
Towards the end, she talks about how she feels we could make the teaching of mathematics more effective, and more appealing to more students, instead of turning them off, as seems so universally true. The problem is a massive one, because, even after we accept that it should be done, and agree on a way to do it, it would involve (IMHO) a complete re-education of mathematics teachers at just about every level of mathematics teaching. But just because we might not be able to do a complete revamp of the system doesn't mean that we shouldn't be examining how to improve things, perhaps in a more incremental way.
I believe this book should be read by almost everyone; math-phobes (of which there are legion), math lovers (because the book brings some fresh perspectives on how to think about math), and -- perhaps most especially, teachers of math and math curricular creators, to help them create better ways of teaching math and conveying its many beauties and fascinations to all students....more
This was a short book that, in Kindle form, was very inexpensive. I have always found Alan Turing an interesting (and tragic) figure, so I grabbed it.This was a short book that, in Kindle form, was very inexpensive. I have always found Alan Turing an interesting (and tragic) figure, so I grabbed it. It took very little time to read (which perhaps was the intent of the author), and added a little bit to my knowledge of Turing. It was written in an engaging style.
This book has caused me to set myself a challenge: to read a book I bought a while ago, immediately after viewing the movie "The Imitation Game" Alan Turing: The Enigma. When I received this book, I discovered that it is a fat tome of 736 pages, and was intimidated by its size. So, now......more
This is a charming book that attempts to provide an understanding of Mathematics for pretty much anyone. As one who has a strong background in MathematThis is a charming book that attempts to provide an understanding of Mathematics for pretty much anyone. As one who has a strong background in Mathematics, I found it an easy read. I found it to be quite interesting, despite my already knowing quite a bit about the topics being covered. The writing style is light, engaging, even charming, and includes a lot of items that relate the Mathematics to the real world (something I find too many Mathematics courses seldom do)
Of course, as someone with a good Mathematical background, I felt the need for more at the end of each chapter, but that would have changed the goal of the book, and probably reduced its effectiveness.
It is unfortunate that so many people come out of secondary schools and colleges having taken Mathematics courses, but not really knowing what Mathematics is all about. Usually, they are overwhelmed by the symbols, and underwhelmed by the apparent lack of relationship with the world as they see and experience it. Ask a typical college-educated person to describe what Mathematics is all about, and I think you will see what I mean. Most answers will probably talk about arithmetic, algebra or geometry, and will probably not be able to connect those subjects with each other, since Mathematics tends to get taught in separate courses that don't sufficiently connect what has been learned before.
When asked to define Mathematics, people will most likely focus on arithmetic or algebra, but not be able to move far beyond those topics, as those are what most people are familiar with. I asked Google to define Mathematics, and here is what it told me:
"the abstract science of number, quantity, and space."
I don't find that satisfactory. I believe a Mathematician would be more likely to define Mathematics as, perhaps, "The study of patterns". Unfortunately, that's probably too abstract to mean much to typical non-Mathematicians.
By reading this book, I think the typical reader will gain a better perception of what Mathematics is all about. It's a great contribution to the set of books that can provide a better understanding of what Mathematics is, and why it is important, and shows that it truly is relevant -- indispensable, even to everyday life....more
I was hoping that this book would be one that I could claim to be "Statistics for the intelligent layperson". That is, a book that would explain the eI was hoping that this book would be one that I could claim to be "Statistics for the intelligent layperson". That is, a book that would explain the essentials of statistics for the intelligent, enquiring reader without putting them to sleep or having their eyes glaze over. Unfortunately, while the book started with promise, it gradually moved into a more sleep inducing mode, and my attention started to drift. In fact, I stopped reading it and only restarted it, to finally finish it, after a considerable hiatus.
The book does provide a lot of very useful information about statistical techniques, such as multiple regression, and discusses situations where these techniques are appropriate and when they are not. Paradoxically, I found the use of text in relatively dense paragraphs to be much of the problem, when perhaps the use of a small amount of mathematics would have been more effective. But, of course, this is intended to be a book for laypersons, who, for the most part would have their eyes glaze over as a result.
I'm afraid that I'm forced to conclude that statistics will forever be a subject too opaque for most people, at least at the level of this book.
I do think the book could be considered essential reading for those studying statistics, perhaps as a first course....more
I am a fan of Ian Stewart. I think he is one of the best writers about Mathematics and Science in general -- certainly one of the most approachable toI am a fan of Ian Stewart. I think he is one of the best writers about Mathematics and Science in general -- certainly one of the most approachable to a layman, albeit a layman with a scientific/mathematical bent. I own and have read a number of his books, and have enjoyed them all. You can find a number of my reviews of his books on Goodreads.
As the subtitle says, this book is about 17 equations that changed the world. As one who has a Ph.D. in Physics, I was familiar with all but one of these equations, but the author certainly broadens one's appreciation of the effects of these equations on the course of human history. The one I was unfamiliar with is the Black-Scholes Equation, about which more, later.
Each chapter begins with a summary page, showing the equation in question, with little lines pointing to the major elements of the equations, and labels identifying them. Then, on the same page, the author lists three items: 1) What does it tell us? 2) Why is that important? 3) What did it lead to?
This forms the basis for the rest of the chapter, and sets the tone. While the author talks a little about the mathematics behind the equation, he adds some history, some related anecdotes, and then a discussion of more details about why the equation is important, and how it has affected humans, sometimes over millenia. While I was familiar with almost all of the equations, I learned something new about each one, from the author's coverage. His writing style is light, and often amusing. He often refers to things in today's society that are relevant to the equation and its consequences.
I was particularly delighted with Stewart's discussion, in the introduction to the chapter on the Second Law of Thermodynamics (a topic that I always found challenging, even as a trained physicist), of C. P. Snow's "The Two Cultures"Two Cultures (http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/stu...), a lecture given in 1959 that has long rung true to my ears. Snow's premise was that, while society expects "educated" people to know, for example, the works of Shakespeare, and other literary and historical works, it is rare for those so-called educated people to know even basic science, least of all understand it. He used the Second Law of Thermodynamics as an example, as it is a very fundamental physical law that should be familiar to everyone. Snow bemoaned the low level of scientific education at the time, and it is my belief that the situation has only become worse -- so many people today ignore scientific results, often preferring political statements to those of science. The issue of climate change is the obvious example, but there are many more. Stewart's explanation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and its ramifications were extremely lucid, and his discussion right on target.
The last chapter is entitled "The Midas formula: Black-Scholes Equation". This was the only equation I was unfamiliar with, and for a very good reason: it relates to Finance, and financial derivatives in particular. The author not only provides a very good explanation of the equation and how it has become the "sine qua non" of Wall Street and the big financial organizations, used to justify their reckless actions that caused the 2008-9 financial crisis and the resulting Great Recession, which is far from over as I write (despite all the glowing reports of economic growth). This chapter is a strong and authoritative indictment of what has happened in the Financial sector, and continues to happen, with no sign of any accountability ever being applied. If "regular" people read this chapter and fully understood it, they would (and should) become enraged over what has happened and continues to happen. Unless the financial sector is reined in, we are no doubt headed for more catastrophes in the future.
One further point about this book: I have felt for some time that there is a real need for students (from middle school, high school, and college) not only to learn mathematics, but to learn how it is useful and relevant in their lives. Too often, mathematics is taught in a rote manner; too many students are turned off by repetitive problems ("Solve the following 40 quadratic equations", and the like), and with too little understanding of the concepts and the true meaning of the many aspects of mathematics.
I would love this book to become required reading at, say, the upper high school and/or college level, as I think it could help with this necessary deeper understanding of the relevance of mathematics. Unfortunately, I doubt that most students would have the necessary sophistication to fully understand many of the concepts in this book. This is not to say that the book is written at a very deep level, but it would take a relatively sophisticated reader to get the best out of the book. However, perhaps someone could teach a mathematics course with this as a supplementary text, with the necessary "translation" being performed by the teacher. I suppose I am forever optimistic......more
So, I thought that this book would be entertaining, and probably amusing. After all, the idea of a wildly popular television cartoon series containing hidden mathematical secrets did sound appealing. Unfortunately, I was disappointed; in my mind, it fell flat. Perhaps I already knew [too?] much of the mathematics referred to (although certainly not all!); perhaps I didn't latch onto the nerdy humor that must have been rife in those writers' exchanges. I was never a Simpsons fan, and didn't watch the series, so perhaps I wasn't the intended audience.
Perhaps with the right audience, with little mathematical background and less nerd humor challenged, this book could be appreciated and used as a different approach to learning the appeal of mathematics (and goodness knows, we need lots more of that!). Perhaps those of my friends and former colleagues who have a more mathematical/educational bent could see possibilities here....more
I'm a fan of Ian Stewart. I own many of his books, and he has a gift for explaining mathematical concepts in understandable ways.
In this book, he faceI'm a fan of Ian Stewart. I own many of his books, and he has a gift for explaining mathematical concepts in understandable ways.
In this book, he faced a huge challenge: To explain mathematics' most formidable problems. He has done an admirable job. Explaining the meaning of each problem, let alone why it might be important to us, and how one might approach solving the problem, is a major challenge.
It would be difficult for me to imagine how anyone else could do a better job than Stewart does. However, as I read deeper into this book, I found the material more challenging. I was trained as a physicist, and so do not have a fear of mathematics (although that is a long way from actually being a Mathematician -- they definitely think differently from most of us!). I might have had a harder time without that strong mathematical background.
Recommended for those with sufficient background and perseverance....more
Surprisingly, I have found the history sections of these books often to be more interesting than the math sections -- I say surprisingly because I disliked history in high school. This book is no exception to that. In fact, Derbyshire seems to delve more deeply into some of the conventional stories (particularly about Galois, for example) and does not automatically follow the conventional, sometimes romanticized, stories.
The mathematical sections were reasonably well written, although towards the end of the book, the density of math became a little much for my taste. Others seem to have had similar experiences, based on some of the reviews here. ...more
The preface to this book contains the following explanation, which I think suffices to explain its reason for being:
"For disciplines as diverse as litThe preface to this book contains the following explanation, which I think suffices to explain its reason for being:
"For disciplines as diverse as literature, music, and art, there is a tradition of examining masterpieces -- the "great novels", the "great symphonies", the "great paintings" -- as the fittest and most illuminating objects of study. Books are written and courses are taught on precisely these topics in order to acquaint us with some of the creative milestones of the discipline and with the men and women who produced them. The present book offers an analogous approach to mathematics, where the creative unit is not the novel or symphony, but the theorem. ... "
On the whole, I think the author does a commendable job in fulfilling this promise. There are, however, some shortcomings: The book states that Fermat's Last Theorem is still unsolved, when it was in fact proved by Andrew Wiles and Richard Taylor in 1995. Of course, the book was published in 1990, so what it stated was true at the time of writing. A second shortcoming, in my estimation, is the total absence of any mention of Group Theory, its origins during the French Revolution (Evariste Galois and subsequent enhancements by Sophus Lie, both of whom have fascinating histories, albeit tragic ones). Perhaps the importance of Group Theory was not apparent in 1990, but I doubt that. Bottom line: The book needs a new edition.
Just as I would have a hard time going through one of the standard "great masterpieces of fiction" tomes because of my lack of appreciation of many so-called classics, so a typically non-mathematical reader would probably have a difficult time reading this book, at least in the sections that deal with the proofs of the theorems. Even I, with a strong mathematical background, found my eyes glazing over during some of the proofs -- especially those based on Euclidean style geometry (all the ancient Greek and other ancient cultures were based on this kind of geometry). You know, the kind of geometry where, in school, you were asked to prove that this angle is equal to that other angle. I was never very good at that -- perhaps I lacked the spatial aptitude, and there never seemed to be any real rules to follow; it was basically trial and error. I *was* good at what we called Coordinate Geometry (I think they call it Analytic Geometry now), probably because there were more easily identified rules.
I found the last two chapters, "The Non-Denumerability of the Continuum" and "Cantor and the Transfinite Realm", to be particularly interesting, because I had not previously learned about those areas.
One final comment, which applies not only to this book but to most if not all mathematics books I've read or studied: I feel that one of the reasons why so many people stop paying detailed attention (glazed eye onset) to a mathematical proof is not only that it's often difficult to understand, but that it's often presented in a very dense manner. Essential steps are subsumed into a single paragraph with no attempt to identify each step. I believe that, if there was an express attempt to present the proof using bulleted or numbered lists, with relatively short explanations in each item, more people could stay awake longer and be more likely to understand the proof. Perhaps this is because it would provide more of a visual aid than densely written paragraphs. Mathematicians often forget that they do this for a living, so it becomes second nature to them, while other mere mortals might benefit from a different approach and/or presentation....more
Ordinarily, I like such books, and have read quite a few of them. However, I found this one a little on the lifeless side -- too much a short descriptOrdinarily, I like such books, and have read quite a few of them. However, I found this one a little on the lifeless side -- too much a short description of facts which left me not much impressed. I've read quite a few books on the history of mathematics (both specific and general) that were much better than this one, so I'm trying to figure out what the difference was. Here are my conclusions:
1) The descriptions were a little too cold and purely informative to me. They didn't have much life to them.
2) Unlike some other reviews of this book I've read, I felt that the book lacked enough detail on the mathematics that the characters were responsible for. (Some of the other reviews said that they couldn't follow the math, which surprised me because what was covered was pretty elementary, and lacked detail.) The other books I'd read had a more balanced approach -- often alternating chapters of history with the math (albeit not in great detail -- these were all laymen's books)
3) There were some odd omissions -- the most obvious to me was Bernhard Riemann, who was mentioned but was not given the same coverage as others. Also, while the relatively recent solution of Fermat's Last Theorem was mentioned, I would have thought that it merited a little more coverage -- although perhaps Andrew Wiles, the major contributor to that solution may not yet be considered one of the great mathematicians.
4) I did like the fact that this book contained images of various kinds (one common shortcoming of such books is that they often rely too much on just text, with minimal visual aids). While there were some pictures of mathematical items, I felt that there were not enough of these -- but that would have required more text about the math, in order to explain it.
5) This book seems to end rather abruptly. Surely some kind of summary would have been appropriate?
This said, the book is an easy read. The author, Amir Aczel does have a pleasant style....more
I have many John Gribbin books, and have enjoyed every one of them so far.
I found it interesting that this book covers material such as the emergenceI have many John Gribbin books, and have enjoyed every one of them so far.
I found it interesting that this book covers material such as the emergence of life, chaos theory, thermodynamics and the arrow of time, and much more. I have read books on the arrow of time, and found them less satisfying than this one. I have read Richard Dawkins' "The Greatest Show on Earth", which powerfully argues for Evolution, but I found parts of this book to be more interesting than Dawkins' descriptions.
This book covers a lot of territory, but it does it in a very accessible way. It is very interesting, and is very well written. It held my interest over a wide range of topics.
I am a fan of Ian Stewart. I own several of his earlier books, all of which I have read and enjoyed immensely. So, I had high expectations of this booI am a fan of Ian Stewart. I own several of his earlier books, all of which I have read and enjoyed immensely. So, I had high expectations of this book, his latest. However, I was disappointed. But perhaps it is more my own biases than any failings on Prof. Stewart's part that explain this. I was educated in Physics and Mathematics -- I have a Ph.D. in Experimental High Energy Particle Physics -- and gave up Biology in school at the age of about 14, because I couldn't stand having to copy drawings from the book, and regurgitate stuff out of that same book. Physics suited my urge to have a measurable science, one based on principles upon which one could build with precision. In those days (in the 1950s), biology seemed like a very weak science, and this was before many of the major discoveries in Biology -- and the creation of microbiology and other branches -- had made their way into the school Biology curriculum.
I find that, whenever I read something about Biology -- for example, in Discover Magazine or similar -- I quickly lose interest. Perhaps it's something to do with the great complexity and still lack of precision; perhaps it's related to the arcane language that seems to pervade the subject; perhaps all of the above and more. Of course, every science -- every discipline -- has its own jargon; it's just that I don't seem to be able to absorb it to the level where I can get engrossed in the subject.
This book does a very admirable job of describing a lot of biological discoveries -- something I definitely needed! I think I was disappointed to see how little detailed mathematics was discussed. Note that there were lots of mathematical topics, and their relationships with aspects of biology, covered. It's just that the mathematical detail wasn't sufficient for my liking. I don't know whether this is a result of how Prof. Stewart wanted to present things, or whether the publisher told him the usual stuff about how "every mathematical formula you put in will significantly reduce the sales of the book" (or something like that).
Perhaps the title "The Mathematics of Life" suggests that there will be more Mathematics covered than Life?
Don't misunderstand me; this is a good book -- it's just not what I was hoping for....more
This book is one of several books on a mathematical topic, ostensibly for laypersons. The topic in this case is the Riemann Hypothesis, which is one oThis book is one of several books on a mathematical topic, ostensibly for laypersons. The topic in this case is the Riemann Hypothesis, which is one of the -- perhaps THE -- most important unsolved problems in Mathematics. The style and layout of the book follows one that I have seen in other such books, where the chapters alternate between the history and personalities and social and political context for those involved in trying to solve the problem, and an explanation of the mathematical topic or related topics.
In the case of the Riemann Hypothesis (RH), the mathematical explanations are not easy. The hypothesis itself is not easy to understand. The author defines the RH on page xi in the book's prologue: "The Riemann Hypothesis: All non-trivial zeros of the zeta function have real part one-half." He then spends a considerable part of the book explaining what that means. This involves introducing number systems, complex numbers, some integral calculus, and a lot of manipulation of infinite series.
I have a solid background in mathematics (my Ph.D. is in Elementary Particle Physics), albeit I'm on the rusty side, not having used my math much in recent years. I found some of the math explanations somewhat challenging, so I'm not sure what a genuine "intelligent layperson" would make of them. I found them interesting, and sometimes innovative, but towards the end I was growing tired and losing interest.
The chapters on the mathematicians, their history and social and political context were more interesting (and I am one who found history in high school to be boring in the extreme!)
On the whole, I liked the book, but I have also read Marcus du Sautoy's "The Music of the Primes", which is also focused on the RH, and I prefer that book.
Towards the end of this book, one starts to wonder what makes the RH so important to mathematicians. In Chapter 22, the author addresses the question "What use is it?", and then goes on to say that he, along with most pure mathematicians, don't really care whether there are applications or could be. But that is not the same as the question "Why is it important in mathematics?", and I felt after finishing the book that this latter question hadn't really been answered (unless you consider the entire contents of the book an answer; if so, it certainly isn't a succinct answer!)...more
I have read most of Mario Livio's other books, and like all the ones I've read. This book is no exception; it's a fascinating discussion of how MathemI have read most of Mario Livio's other books, and like all the ones I've read. This book is no exception; it's a fascinating discussion of how Mathematics appears to describe our universe, but we don't really know why.
An interesting description of the solution to one of the most important mathematical problems: The Poincare Conjecture.
It attempts to explain the mathAn interesting description of the solution to one of the most important mathematical problems: The Poincare Conjecture.
It attempts to explain the mathematical background (topology), but doesn't explain much of the essential background. Terms are used without explanation.
As I've said elsewhere, I'm a convert to Ian Stewart's books. This is one for the real non-mathematician, and covers material that arguably should beAs I've said elsewhere, I'm a convert to Ian Stewart's books. This is one for the real non-mathematician, and covers material that arguably should be taught to every child at this level, just to show what mathematics is *really* all about.
I loved this book! I tried to explain to a class I was teaching on Symmetry that I could not put it down. It was almost like a detective novel! The faI loved this book! I tried to explain to a class I was teaching on Symmetry that I could not put it down. It was almost like a detective novel! The fact that it was probably the seventh or eighth book on symmetry I had read by then makes this all the more surprising and shows how well the author does his job.
The book describes how the largest ever mathematical proof was solved by hundreds of mathematicians over many, many pages of proofs. Sounds dry? It's not! This history goes back to the beginnings of group theory, and runs all the way through to quite recent times. It includes some very interesting discussions of the personalities involved.
The focus of this book is more on physics than on the mathematics of symmetry. The author is an eminent Nobel Prize winning physicist who really knowsThe focus of this book is more on physics than on the mathematics of symmetry. The author is an eminent Nobel Prize winning physicist who really knows what he's talking about, and it's a very good read. Lederman's humor and ego both come through.
Yes, there is another "Fearful Symmetry" (the other one I've read is by the mathematician Ian Stewart). This one with a subtitle "The search for beautYes, there is another "Fearful Symmetry" (the other one I've read is by the mathematician Ian Stewart). This one with a subtitle "The search for beauty in modern physics", and written by a theoretical physicist, rather than a mathematician.
This book is a lot harder to get through, and takes more effort to read, by a large margin. I forget whether I completely finished reading it.
Recommended for those with a good constitution....more
This one (at least, my edition) is apparently available only from UK, in a Penguin edition, although my copyAnother of Ian Stewart's wonderful books.
This one (at least, my edition) is apparently available only from UK, in a Penguin edition, although my copy (ordered through Amazon U.S.) came quickly and inexpensively.
"Why Beauty is Truth: A History of Symmetry" was the first book by Ian Stewart that I had read. I am now a convert. I own several of his books (he has"Why Beauty is Truth: A History of Symmetry" was the first book by Ian Stewart that I had read. I am now a convert. I own several of his books (he has reputedly written more than 50 books -- how does he find time?), and find every one fascinating.
I had already read Marcus du Sautoy's "The Music of the Primes", and liked it a lot. So, I had high expectations of his "Symmetry". I was not disappoiI had already read Marcus du Sautoy's "The Music of the Primes", and liked it a lot. So, I had high expectations of his "Symmetry". I was not disappointed, although he has a very personalized approach to the topic.
This was the first book I read about symmetry and its related mathematical topic, group theory, and it is excellent.
This book takes the same approachThis was the first book I read about symmetry and its related mathematical topic, group theory, and it is excellent.
This book takes the same approach as many other similar books, focusing on the history (tragic in the case of Galois and Abel) and personalities, rather than the details of the mathematics.
A wonderful book about prime numbers, and the so-called Riemann Hypothesis.
This book is more about the history and the personalities than the detaileA wonderful book about prime numbers, and the so-called Riemann Hypothesis.
This book is more about the history and the personalities than the detailed mathematics, although the author does give a sense of the mathematics involved. Fascinating!
A highly engaging book about the amazing mathematical entity known as 'Phi', a.k.a. "The Golden Ratio". You'll be intrigued by how often and how manyA highly engaging book about the amazing mathematical entity known as 'Phi', a.k.a. "The Golden Ratio". You'll be intrigued by how often and how many times this value turns up in mathematics and in our physical world.
This is wonderfully engaging book all about Fermat's Last Theorem, what it is, and how it was eventually solved -- but not using mathematical techniquThis is wonderfully engaging book all about Fermat's Last Theorem, what it is, and how it was eventually solved -- but not using mathematical techniques that Fermat could have been aware of.
This is more a book about the history and the personalities than the details of the mathematics, so don't be afraid that you might get hung up on the mathematics!