Bill Ward's Reviews > The Music of the Primes: Searching to Solve the Greatest Mystery in Mathematics

The Music of the Primes by Marcus du Sautoy
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's review
Oct 14, 2011

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bookshelves: math, history, geeky-history
Read in October, 2011

This book was at its heart a biography of the Reimann Hypothesis, and of the mathematicians who worked on trying to prove or disprove it over the years. I really liked the way that it showed the relationships among the people involved, and how the centers of number theory research shifted from Paris to Göttingen to Princeton, and how this was caused in large part by the geopolitics of the area (Napoleon and Hitler in particular).

But this book has a serious flaw. The math was really dumbed down for this book, with very little attempt to teach any of the concepts involved beyond vague metaphors. I feel that this would be frustrating for anyone with a real interest in math and number theory, and that the topic itself would be of little interest to people without the mathematical background, so I wish the author had given us a little more credit for our math skills (he is a professor of mathematics, so I know he could do it).

I suppose in conjunction with a real math book, this could give some interesting insights into the history of our understanding of prime numbers, but I felt ultimately that the lack of real math in the book made it a lot less enjoyable and informative than it could have been.
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message 1: by Joe (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joe This sums up my problem with this book really well. It was just painful at times how hard the writer was avoiding any even relatively simple stuff.

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