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Is God a Mathematician?

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  926 Ratings  ·  136 Reviews
Bestselling author and astrophysicist Mario Livio examines the lives and theories of history’s greatest mathematicians to ask how—if mathematics is an abstract construction of the human mind—it can so perfectly explain the physical world.

Nobel Laureate Eugene Wigner once wondered about “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics” in the formulation of the laws of nature
ebook, 320 pages
Published February 22nd 2011 by Simon Schuster (first published 2009)
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Ken Roebuck
Jul 26, 2011 Ken Roebuck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The answer to the question "Is God a Mathematician" depends very much on your world view. Those of faith that believe in a transcendent creator God will surely answer with a resounding YES. But Atheists and other non believers are likely to think mathematics is nothing more than an invention of the human mind. Nevertheless, it remains that the universe appears to have been designed by a pure mathematician. As James Jean put it “mathematics appears to be almost too effective in describing and exp ...more
Crina Bucur
Sep 16, 2015 Crina Bucur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone curious
I was pleasantly surprised by Mario Livio’s “Is God a Mathematician?” specifically his eloquence in walking the readers through the most significant moments in the history of mathematics and acquainting them with prominent figures on an extensive timeline from antiquity to modern days.

As the title suggests, the main focus of the book is represented by the existence of various paradigms describing how we should approach mathematics, among which two stand out as poles apart: formalism (claiming th
 Δx Δp ≥ ½ ħ
Sangat sederhana dan menggelitik pertanyaannya, Apakah Tuhan itu Seorang Matematikawan?

Jika Anda pernah membaca buku Biografi Angka Nol-nya Charles Seife, Anda bakal langsung faham, mengapa Tuhan seolah menganakemaskan matematika dibandingkan ilmu yang lainnya. Tuhan, anehnya, seolah menaruh minat khusus pada perkembangan matematika.

Sebagai contoh, siapa yang tak kenal Golden Ratio alias "Nisbah Emas"? nyaris semua struktur makhluk hidup memiliki perbandingan nisbah emas. mulai dari susunan tula
Feb 06, 2009 Mazola1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Is God A Mathematician, Mario Livio tries to explain the "unreasonable effectiveness" of mathematics to make sense of nature. Why do so many basic truths of physics, nature and the universe obey mathematical laws? Livio also tackles the question of whether mathematics is discovered (an objective truth independent of human thought) or invented (the product of human thought and reasoning). Along the way, Livio provides a fascinating mini-history of the development of math, biographies of some o ...more
Jun 02, 2009 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book, Livio addresses the question of why the principles and laws of mathematics seem so "unreasonably effective" in explaining the physical world. For instance, when Newton deduced the law of gravity, he could hardly have known that these mathematical laws would for six orders of magnitude more precision than the data he originally was trying to match. In a similar way, there are numerous instances in 20th century physics of mathematical principles, previously discovered by mathematicia ...more
Jimmy Ele
Jul 10, 2016 Jimmy Ele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting for the sections on the Mathematicians such as Archimedes. Did it answer the question? No. I felt like I was just baited into reading the book. Mario Livio examines the Neoplatonic ideas of the origin of Mathematics as well as the AntiPlatonist argument. He seems to side with the AntiPlatonist argument in the end. I still really enjoyed the book and it led me to put some other books on my To Read shelf. All in all, I don't consider it time wasted to have read this book.
Mar 27, 2013 Fortunr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book, highly recommended to anybody interested in the relationship between mathematics and physical reality. The author demonstrates his wide knowledge and culture, which is not limited only to mathematics and physics, but also to philosophy, cognitive sciences etc. A very comprehensive account, the only small defect being that the final conclusive part seems a bit rushed.
Mar 10, 2017 Jafar rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So – “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics.” Why is it that the laws of nature are so nicely expressed by mathematical formulas, and even more strangely, how is it possible that a theorist can manipulate his equations and predict something entirely new – like a new elementary particle – which will turn out to be real? Is nature based on mathematics? And what is mathematics anyway? Is it invented or discovered? All really fascinating questions. However, most of this book is math history. ...more
Steven Williams
Jul 18, 2017 Steven Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mario Livio examines the difficult to figure out effectiveness of mathematics in science. He also discusses the nature of mathematics, in particularly is mathematics invented or discovered? The reason for this discussion is that it becomes important to how you view the effectiveness issue, which is the major topic of the book.

After stating the “mystery” of the effectiveness of mathematics in science in chapter one, Livio discusses the Greeks views on mathematics, especially Pythagoras and Plato
Става дума за история и философия на математиката. Мястото на математиката, като дисциплина, в книгата реално се намира само на едно място - в заглавието. Същото се отнася и за Бог (доколкото той може да се намира някъде).

Ливио се е опитал да направи едно неутрално изследване за "необяснимата ефективност на математиката" в света, който обитаваме, а бележките и библиографията в края на книгата, говорят, че се е постарал да си напише домашното. И се е получило. Като повечето домашни - сухо, педант
James (JD) Dittes
Since the enlightenment, mathematics and the sciences have ascended heights where God alone used to dwell, growing in scope and complexity and marveling the world with miracles like fusion, antibiotics, and space travel. Livio's title, "Is God a Mathematician?" isn't so much an effort to unite math and theology as it is an effort to find out how omnipotent and omniscient math can truly be.

The first half reads as a history of science--going over the ground of Archimides, Galileo, Copernicus and

Pi in The Sky is still the gold standard for books trying to explain why mathematics fits the real world with unreasonable effectiveness as the famous Wigner quote puts it. This book is still worth a read, but does not bring anything new, though it's entertaining and well written
Robert B
The catchy title is somewhat misleading, as Livio, an astrophysicist, does not really look at any aspect of God. Instead, Livio explores “the unreasonable effectiveness” of math, asking whether math is something “out there” in the real world that people have discovered or whether it is an invention of the human mind that just happens to apply well to reality. He answers the question by examining the work of great mathematicians, including Pythagoras, Descartes, Galileo, Newton, et al. In the end ...more
May 24, 2017 Pablo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Muy lindo libro, facil de leer y a la vez muy profundo. Muy recomendable para los interesados por el fundamento filosofico de la matematica
Aug 19, 2014 Vov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off, I'll begin by recommending this book to anyone who: is a newbie to mathematics, is a math enthusiast, enjoys digging deeper into the history of math and the people behind it, and anyone in general who is interested in math.
Note: I think those of you who have more experience with math (and its history) might not find anything new in this book -- but it's still a fun read which you could breeze through and enjoy.

Secondly, I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Livio's style is somew
Dec 20, 2009 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Senior astrophysicist at the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute and author of a few other math books aimed at the general public, Mario Livio has written a short, accessible, and in many ways profound exploration of the nature of mathematics. He centers his book around two questions: 1. "Is mathematics ultimately invented or discovered?" and 2. "Why is mathematics so effective and productive in explaining the world around us that it even yields new knowledge?"

He frames his inquiry with wha
Fernando del Alamo
Dec 16, 2014 Fernando del Alamo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
La verdad es que este libro, en general todos los que voy leyendo de este autor, ha sido una gozada. En él, el autor llama "magos" a aquellos científicos que en su día se dieron cuenta de que las matemáticas tenían una relación inseparable con la realidad. Si algo no tiene funamento matemático, decimos que le falta rigor. Pero no siempre fue así.

Y entonces al autor da un repaso de los principales personajes centrándose en esta idea y explicando muchos detalles de aquellos que no se leen en gener
Mar 04, 2009 Yofish rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Yofish by: WaPo review Feb 2009
Shelves: read-math
Written by a relatively famous physicist. Purports to examine the question as to whether math is invented or discovered. Never really gets around to 'answering' that question, and the final chapter is pretty disappointing. But there's a lot of good math history in there---mini-biographies of Newton, Galileo, Descartes, Aristotle among others. (He seems to have an odd bias against Gauss, for reasons I don't understand, and Euler barely receives mention.) Nice description of the rise of non-Euclid ...more
Apr 28, 2012 Lammoth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Всичко около нас може да бъде представено чрез математически модели. Чрез математиката можем да формулираме теории за вселената, анализираме поведението на стоковите борси, чрез нея статистиците оптимизират и прогнозират поведението на различни социални явления, невробиолозите създават модели за работата на мозъка и т.н. Може да кажем, че математиката е езика, граматиката на науката.

Но дали тя е плод на нашето въображение или тя е даденост в природата, нещо което просто откриваме? Иначе казано -
Hessa Al Thani
Jan 13, 2017 Hessa Al Thani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those who are thrown off by the title, the book mainly addresses the questions of why mathematics is so effective at modeling reality and whether mathematics was invented or discovered. It's a great read that shows many persuasive examples of the applications of mathematics. It also fleshes out the philisophical discussion of whether mathematics is invented or discovered really well, bringing in many mathematicians and philosophers ideas to the table. My favorite part was when the author was ...more
Apr 27, 2009 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
What accounts for the uncanny ability of mathematics to model the physical world? Is mathematics purely a human construct, an external reality, or something in between. These are the questions Livio sets out to address. He spends most of the book setting the stage for that, by reviewing critical developments in math and its use for modeling, from ancient Greece to the 21st century. In the end, Livio's personal answers to the questions don't matter as much as the enjoyment of the journey he takes ...more
May 22, 2010 Gendou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half is a stale history of mathematicians, lacking in actual math. The second half is more interesting, when it gets into topology and non-Euclidean geometry. Much of the philosophy in the book suffers from the too common disease of struggling to define terms instead of presenting substantive arguments. However, the last chapter has some real gems in it, so I'd say this one's worth a read!
Jan 08, 2016 Suman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a slow reader, else normally this book can be easily completed within a week's time. Very interesting read particularly for someone interested in science and history of mathematics.
Го Шо
Oct 05, 2011 Го Шо rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a bit more popular than I expected it to be but it was still good.
Sajith Kumar
Jul 06, 2015 Sajith Kumar rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All
Shelves: popular-science
Science is an attempt to read God’s mind which is evident in the physical reality as the rules and principles which hold the world together. Livio’s book is an elegant attempt to tell the epic story of man’s quest to peer into nature itself and to grasp its fundamental principles with the help of his greatest intellectual tool – mathematics. Its extraordinary ability to describe the world has been a source of wonder to philosophists ever. This feat comes in two varieties. In one category named a ...more
Jun 07, 2017 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first and last chapters are the only ones directly addressing the topic and questions; everything else in between is pretty much a history of math.

I didn't mind too much, because I like math and learning about its history is interesting. Also, learning about how math has progressed is necessary for the author to make his arguments in the final chapter. However, it probably could have been written a lot more succinctly.
The relevance of mathematics in physical reality

This is a historical review of the evolution of mathematics in physics and philosophy. The author and publishers have used a catchy title for the book to enhance its marketability. I was looking for a philosophical analysis of the basic laws (and equations) of physics and how it influenced the thought on physical reality. There is no discussion of how consciousness fit in within all this. If God used mathematics to create the laws of physics, then
Kaan Cetindag
Although the book was, in general, a nice read, the language was very stale. I was expecting more in depth coverage of some mathematical concepts such as Non-Euclidian geometries but I also understand that why it would be hard to do that in a popular science book.

Overall, the best way to describe this book would be: 'meh'.
May 23, 2017 Dimitri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intense reading, very exciting and informative.
Ruben Giró
May 04, 2017 Ruben Giró rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cap al final és força espès, però clar, és que cada cop la matemàtica és més complicada. Trobo que el capítol de conclusions acaba de manera molt abrupta, podrien haver-lo acabat de manera més fina.
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“For Newton, the world's very existence and the mathematical regularity of the observed cosmos were evidence for God's presence.” 2 likes
“The legendary inscription above the Academy's door speaks loudly about Plato's attitude toward mathematics. In fact, most of the significant mathematical research of the fourth century BC was carried out by people associated in one way or another with the Academy. Yet Plato himself was not a mathematician of great technical dexterity, and his direct contributions to mathematical knowledge were probably minimal. Rather, he was an enthusiastic spectator, a motivating source of challenge, an intelligent critic, an an inspiring guide. The first century philosopher and historian Philodemus paints a clear picture: "At that time great progress was seen in mathematics, with Plato serving as the general architect setting out problems, and the mathematicians investigating them earnestly." To which the Neoplatonic philosopher and mathematician Proclus adds: "Plato...greatly advanced mathematics in general and geometry in particular because of his zeal for these studies. It is well known that his writings are thickly sprinkled with mathematical terms and that he everywhere tries to arouse admiration for mathematics among students of philosophy." In other words, Plato, whose mathematical knowledge was broadly up to date, could converse with the mathematicians as an equal and as a problem presenter, even though his personal mathematical achievements were not significant.” 1 likes
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