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Warum (Gerade) Mathematik?: Eine Antwort in Briefen

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,004 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
Was machen eigentlich Mathematiker? Den ganzen Tag nur rechnen und Gleichungen losen und Formeln ableiten und Funktionen darstellen? Geht es in der Mathematik ausschlielich um Zahlen? Wie kommt man auf die Idee, Mathematik zu studieren, und was sollte man dafur mitbringen? Welche Erfahrungen liegen zwischen dem ersten Semester und der ersten Professur? Wer sonst als Ian St ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 17th 2008 by Spektrum Akademischer Verlag (first published 2006)
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Jean Poulos
This book attempts to answer the following questions. 1) Is mathematics a worthwhile career? 2) What being a mathematician is like. 3) What type of jobs/careers are available? The main strength of Ian Stewart’s book is the way he addresses these questions in an entertaining manner. He manages to keep his explicit advice witty and brief.

Stewart reviews mathematics from high school to daily life to post docs. He also discusses the importance of mathematic teachers and the valuable role they play.
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Holmes
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being no mathematician myself (and certainly lacking in talent), I don't think I have ever been this engrossed in reading a book about math. I basically devoured it. In fact, I believe anyone can devour it: there are no exotic symbols or scary formulas to put one off; the focus is on the humanistic side rather than the technical side; the book reads almost like a story as the imagined "Meg" (to which the book is supposed to be addressed) grows from a curious youngster to an established mathemati ...more
Angelynn A
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing! Stewart did a great job in casually describing (to "Meg") what to expect in the life of a mathematician (in academia), as well as the splendor of mathematics. What I really REALLY liked was how the book described the beauty of mathematics in its own right, as well as the beauty of its applications in the real world. As a mathematics PhD candidate, I evidently am aware of the elegance of the subject, so a lot of the description was not new to me. Nevertheless, I ultimately f ...more
Andrew
Apr 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: math-fun
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hamed Zakerzadeh
"If you publish nothing for five years and then solve the Poincaré conjecture, you'll be set for life, assuming you are allowed to keep your job while you are doing it. If you publish nothing for five years and then fail to solve the Poincaré conjecture, you'll be out on your ear."

Please don't get me wrong, I simply liked it and recommend it to everyone (at least who has some interests in math). But in particular, in the first chapters, the book didn't seem that interesting to me, to get 4/5. It
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sqrt2
Feb 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
a bit childish, but good,
a bit vague but interesting,
could have been better,
what he says in relation to G.H. Hardy I don't agree with at all and he doesn't demonstrate his claim ..at least not with any clarity and definitely not with any conviction.
he de-mystifies certain things when he is actually trying to mystify them.
he tried to write for a broad audience and ended up really talking to no one, or rather, not really really reaching anyone.
it was good, but lacked strong opinion and deep insig
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Andrea AE
Jan 18, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mathematics
230 de 230. Me hubiera gustado leer Cartas a una Joven Matemática cuando estudiaba la prepa, de seguro me hubiera dedicado a las matemáticas y es que Ian Stewart te presenta todo ese mundo que va desde las mismas matemáticas hasta los matemáticos de una forma tan extraordinaria y fácil de comprender, abriéndote los ojos y borrando estereotipos que se tiene sobre ellas.
Sin embargo hay veces que se muestra más de un lado que le del otro, no es imparcial en algunos aspectos que debería serlo hacie
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Sofia Lazaridou
OK,I was out of my element here.My math teacher lend me the book and though it's recommended to high school students but I think if you're a high school student should really like maths and you read books about them then you should read this.I as mostly romance reader couldn't exactly follow the idea of the book because it's plotless.Stewart just talks about maths all by himself.It might had helped if Meg's letters were also inside the book since sometime he answered things to her that I did not ...more
Alastair
Clever, perceptive, genuine -- and, best of all, my favorite genre of non-fiction, which lies somewhere between memoir and essay but with some expertise behind it. Of course writers write about their own lives. It's also gratifying to get advice, even on a topic in which I'm unlikely to be able to follow it. I wish I'd paid more attention to math, or had more inspiring math teachers -- I would have been able to do interesting things with my developing view of the world if I'd had better math ski ...more
Charbel
Feb 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Letters To A Young Mathematician is a great book if you're looking for a genereal idea of what it's like to do mathematics for a living. It answers many questions, including the old wondering: what is mathematics exactly?
The book is a series of letters addressed to an aspiring mathematician called Meg. This is a fresh and interesting way to deliver factual information to the reader, and even a better way to keep track of the author's thinking process.
Ron Joniak
Lovely read to prepare the early mathematician for the future. Unfortunately, this book suffers from lack of deep insight and is often very vague. Meg is indeed, not real.
Sarah
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-challenge
I'm not quite sure when I picked up this book (or if it was possibly a gift at some point?), but it's definitely one that I would use quotations from if I ever went back to teaching in a math classroom. There are some very good lines about what math is and what it means to pursue it, as one would expect in a book based on the premise of giving advice to a mathematician just starting out. It was particularly neat to see the progression across time - how the advice changed as opportunities changed ...more
Baby Adam
I found the beginning a little basic, but of course I'm not really the target audience, especially the first half or so of the book. I think this would've been really helpful to have as a companion for advice over the various stages of my education.

The book is very good at giving an accurate account of what it's like on the road to becoming a mathematician. I enjoyed how everything was very relatable, but I do think Stewart was maybe a bit cynical about academia politics, which could be potenti
...more
Cynthia
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book, because it points out a lot of things people don't realize about math. At parts, it would be too complicated for a "non math" person to enjoy.

It struck me about halfway through how privileged his whole experience has been. Toward the end he states that math is a talent that some people just don't have. That's where I stopped enjoying this book. It improved again at the end, but I lost a lost of love for this book.

In general, he is very math-positive, suggests keeping an open
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Xuan
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the end of this book, I wish I would have known this book when I started college. But it's never too late to begin. The book is written in a nice polish style, with a lot of examples and precious personal experiences as well as good advices. It gives an insight of becoming and being mathematicians and it's inspiring.

I recommend it to anyone who loves mathematics, who wants to become mathematicians, especially young people.
Shiyue Li
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: math
"No one drifts into Mathematics."
Rafalp
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Quite boring
Dan
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really good overview of what's it like to be a mathematician.
Esther
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Beautiful and sincere. Sometimes funny, sometimes touching.
Thalia Theetge
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The letter format of this book was wonderful, and although I felt myself wanting to read the letters from Meg also, Stewart did great summarizing what she "asked about" before beginning to expound upon different topics. As someone who majored in mathematics in college, It was nice to be able to relate directly to the entirety of the first half of the book, including the points where Meg hit a snag and was trying to find direction. This was all-encompassing and, not only informative, but inspirin ...more
Zoe
Dec 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As the title suggests, this book is written in the form of letters to a "young mathematician", offering advice and generally discussing what mathematics is and what it means to be a mathematician. The back cover promises that it "tells readers what world renowned mathematician Ian Stewart wishes he had known when he was a student", and I was intrigued because I had a mixed experience with mathematics in university and always wondered what I could have done differently.

I have to say, my experienc
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Blamp Head
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: .
Shelves: mathematics, reviewed
Dear Ian,

I read your book Letters to a Young Mathematician and was very impressed. First and foremost, you talked about what it's like to be a mathematician, and talked at length about the practical considerations a mathematician must necessarily face.

Your book didn't assume any technical knowledge of the subject, and indeed several Goodreads reviewers indicate that the book appeals (well, sometimes) even among those not inclined to study mathematics at all. Though some reviewers found your styl
...more
Adam
Sep 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mathematics
I've recently decided to go back to school for a degree in Applied Mathematics, so while my girlfriend was looking over the math section at a used book store she came upon this book. It is certainly a quick read as other reviewers have stated and I must say I found it an enjoyable one. I believe the intended audience of this book is for anyone in general. If you are interested in what mathematicians do, how they contribute to the world, or a glimpse into what they think about, then this is a goo ...more
Eco Imp
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: math
This book will be in my Text Set. If you have a budding mathematician or a stubborn student always asking will I use this, this book is the answer.

I was engrossed in reading this book but was consistently sidetracked into researching many of the principles, theorems, and such mentioned. I acknowledge that I am no math genius but could still relate to the points. Bonus points for recipient being female.

Definite recommendation for anyone, even if math is not your thing.
Rossdavidh
Jan 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: green
The hardest thing about describing this book is saying whether it's fiction or non-fiction. It's mostly a series of essays on math, mathematicians, and how the two affect each other. But, it's presented as a series of letters to a fictional young (in the beginning, aspiring) mathematician named Meg. But, the letters are written by the author, a bona fide mathematician, and not a fictional character at all. If he were just delusional, then this book would be solidly in the non-fictional camp. He ...more
Irene
Mar 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Writing this on March 14th - apparently today is Pi Day, very appropriate.

As a mathematician myself I am biased on this one. Sadly, most undergraduate schools do not have such inspiring professors that care about nurturing the students' talent and love for their discipline. So it is a good thing that Letters To A Young Mathematician was written in the first place. But because of this afore mentioned lack of inspiring professors on an undergraduate level it can be pretty disappointing when compar
...more
Jerzy
Mar 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: math
Probably nothing drastically new here for many young mathematicians, but still includes some good stories and useful tips, and it's always interesting to hear how an established professional got into their field in the first place.
Stewart makes an interesting point that, unlike many other fields, you don't just happen to fall into math - it has to be something you're really into (although it may take a lot of lucky coincidences to let you realize that you're good at math and into it as well).
The
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Jeff
Nov 21, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mathematics
Letters to a Young Mathematician is a short epistolary book with chronological letters addressed to "Meg," what I assume is a fictional mathematician. The letters begin with "Meg" in high school and end with her tenured position at a university. Through the course of the letters, Stewart gives advice and ruminates on the nature of mathematics, learning, teaching, and mathematical research and work.

While the ideas are often enlightening (I was particularly taken with ideas about how mathematicia
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Deana
Jul 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Deana by: Mom
Shelves: 2009, read-owned, 4-5stars
I have no idea how to explain the genre of this, but it is excellent and highly recommended to EVERYONE, regardless of your interest in math (or lack thereof). The book unfolds as a series of letters from the author to Meg, a fictional (as far as I know) female with an interest in mathematics. The author, in case you are unaware, is a famous mathematician in real life. He's done lots of great research in the field, but in recent years his work has mainly been in writing "popular mathematics" - t ...more
Cody
Sep 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being in an undergraduate math degree, this book really answered many of the questions I had been wondering about: Why do math? Pure or applied? What's it like to do research in mathematics? What's graduate school like? What's it like to do a PhD in mathematics? What's it like to teach mathematics? What's it like to be a mathematician?

Since the book is structured as letters directed to Meg, the "young mathematician," and being in a similar situation, it made this book very readable and opened my
...more
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Ian Nicholas Stewart is an Emeritus Professor and Digital Media Fellow in the Mathematics Department at Warwick University, with special responsibility for public awareness of mathematics and science. He is best known for his popular science writing on mathematical themes.
--from the author's website

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See other au
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More about Ian Stewart...
“Unless you are genuinely interested in working with someone, don't. It doesn't matter how big an expert they are, or how much grant money the project would bring in. Stay away from things that do not interest you.” 2 likes
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