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Story of Mathematics

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  388 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Binding: Hardcover

Publisher: Quercus Books

Date published: 2008

ISBN-13: 9781847240170

ISBN: 1847240178
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 28th 2008 by Quercus Books (first published 2007)
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Mark Hebwood
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a history of mathematics packed into less than 400 pages. Ian tackles everything from ancient tallying systems to group theory, from foundational maths to probability theory, from number theory to complexity. So no prizes for guessing that this is not an in-depth account of each subject. But I did not expect it to be, and Ian freely acknowledges that he had to make choices of what to include, and cut corners in the rigour with which he chose to explain it.

And I think he made these decis
Krishna Kumar
This is a short history of maths. By short, I mean really short. Which is unfortunate, because there can be no justice done to any topic within the few pages that the author has allocated for each. In some cases, just as the topic gets interesting, the author is forced to make a rapid conclusion. In other situations, he is forced to become very high-level and ignores the details necessary to help the reader understand what the topic is all about.

Having said that, it is still a fun book in many r
De Ongeletterde
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ian Stewart legt op een bevattelijke manier de evoluties in de wiskunde uit. Hoewel een goede basiskennis van wiskunde (uit het middelbaar) toch wel nodig is, valt het ook als er formules in staan die je niet zo goed snapt, toch nog te volgen, omdat de focus op de historische ontwikkelingen én de toepassingen ligt.
Christine Cordula Dantas
A good summary of the history of mathematics (and mathematicians), in a clear and simple language. I recommend this book specially for young students, but general readers will also gain a good overview of mathematics, even if not particularly enthusiastic about this subject, as mathematical formulas can be skipped without loss of grasping the main historical facts. 3.5/5 stars.
Paul Weimer
Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Mathematician and scientist Ian Stewart writes some popular books on the subject (I keep meaning to read his annotated Flatland). The Story of Mathematics is devoted to an overview and history of Mathematics, and what it was good for in the past and what its good for now.

With lots of sidebar digressions on figures and topics, this volume reminded me, in some respects, of my beloved "The Math Book" textbook that I recently found for sale again, used and purchased. The Story of Mathematics takes o
Koen Crolla
Aug 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mathematics
Another popular history of mathematics, essentially interchangeable with most others. Whatever points he gains for not shying away completely from some of the more technical aspects in the way his colleagues do, he loses for having hand-drawn graphs; I know this is the hip thing to do nowadays, but it looks sloppy and occasionally obscures the information he's trying to convey.
Still, not the worst book ever written.
Darkpool (protesting GR censorship)
Due back at the library Monday. Perhaps I'll return to it eventually. What I have read of this is entertaining enough, and I've even managed to thrill and amaze my Y12 class with some of my gleanings from its pages. Sadly, it had too much competition from more wildly interesting books which have appeared to demand my attention.
Maurizio Codogno
Di libri sulla storia della matematica ce ne sono tante, ognuna con il suo taglio: per esempio Carl Boyer ha un approccio più tecnico, mentre Morris Kline è più sul versante filosofico. Il guaio è che in entrambi i casi gli autori presuppongono che il lettore abbia una conoscenza abbastanza buona della matematica per non perdersi all'interno del testo. In questo libro Ian Stewart sceglie un approccio diverso: non può naturalmente eliminare tutta la matematica, ma cerca di ridurla al minimo indis ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: project-icarus
Good, very good even though it can get quite obscure and esoteric at times.
Holly Cruise
Mar 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I used to be good at maths. Good, but not especially interested, so I dropped it at a younger age than perhaps I should have. Turns out when you don't exercise your maths muscles for over a decade, they atrophy hugely, leaving you staring blankly at the pages of this book about the history of maths, and saying "Whut?".

Each chapter presented the same challenge - how far into it could I get before I didn't know what the hell it was on about? Some felled me on the first page, throwing out equations
Bradley Eylander
Jun 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
The book was a good read because it discussed the more popular breakthroughs in mathematics that I learned in school (it was very selective on what it discussed in mathematics). It was easy to read and it had sections in each topic of mathematics where it would show how every subject in math contributes to today. It also had pictures, which is nice for visual learners like myself.
It lacked however, in mathematical proofs. To explain how someone made a breakthrough in mathematics the author would
Aug 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded up because I can imagine far worse attempts at summarising "the story of mathematics", I liked the use of separate boxes which discussed the personal lives of mathematicians to keep the main text on the maths itself (for the most part) and the liberal use of good diagrams really boosted my understanding and appreciation of the topic at hand.

I'm going to hang onto this book as a reference if I ever need a summary of a given field of mathematics, but I'd struggle to know who to
Michael Fournier
Mar 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
in progress. I highly recommend adding this one to your shelf. So far it is an entertaining mix of the history, theory and practical aspects of Mathematics. Ian Stewart has some great books on the subject (see Flatland). The Story of Mathematics covers subjects of increasing complexity as it follows the timeline of Mathematics development. Each topic is placed in context with how and why it was invented and developed.

It is shorter than your average textbook, so nothing is too academic. This mak
Feb 09, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wiskunde
Wat een mooi overzicht van de geschiedenis van de wiskunde had kunnen zijn, wordt verpest door de ontelbare zetfouten (bv. formules die niet kloppen doordat machten verkeerd staan[p. 317]), fouten in de diagrammen (b.v. zijden van een driehoek die omgewisseld zijn [p. 83]), vertaalfouten (b.v. 'solid sphere' vertaald als vaste bol i.p.v. volle bol [p. 285]) en totaal onbegrijpelijke passages waar het niet duidelijk is of de oorspronkelijke tekst niet helder is, dan wel of de vertaler de tekst ve ...more
Mar 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-reads
I was really distracted by the breaks in the momentum taken by asides about various mathematicians. It read almost as a periodical. I was very happy to get a handle on the evolution of mathematics asa science and art and I think to this end the author nailed it. I am not one to get excited about math, in fact I get rather bored of it quickly- but I am fairly sure it is because I am confused by it. Stewart held my wavering attentions most of the time and I found myself scribbling onto napkins or ...more
Martijn Onderwater
Op zich is dit een vermakelijk boek over de geschiedenis van de wiskunde. Er staan leuke weetjes in, en ik het zette me af en toe wel aan het denken. Toch kan ik niet geheel positief zijn over het boek. Deze editie bevat een aantal drukfouten, maar met name de vertaalfouten zijn storend. De vertaling is voor behoorlijk wat verbetering vatbaar. Lezers zijn mijns inziens beter af met (een vertaling van) het boek The Parrot's Theorem: die is in ieder geval een stuk leuker om te lezen.

Jen Jen
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Si hubiera disfrutado de libros como este desde mi infancia, ciertamente mi ocupación actual no sería la misma y no es por menospreciarla. Pero, con certeza digo que a veces uno no sabe que puede amar aún más unas cosas en comparación con otras y esta vida no nos alcanza para amarlas a todas. Ian Stewart es uno de mis escritores preferidos de divulgación científica. He recomendado este libro tantas veces como he podido y lo seguiré haciendo. De hecho poseo el ejemplar impreso y ahora mismo estoy ...more
May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating and often surprising history of mathematics, from the Babylonians to Chaos Theory and most points in between. Some very nice biographical sketches of the key players as well. However, in spite of the jacket blurb, I definitely wouldn't recommend it to people with only an average grasp of the subject (GCSE or equivalent.) I did Pure Maths to A Level, and parts of it left me floundering. I love Professor Stewart's books usually, but I feel that this could have done with someone at th ...more
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a passable knowledge of A-Level Maths, and frankly unless the reader is at this level most of the book will go over their head. The way the chapters are organised means that you can get about halfway through, just barely understanding, and then Stewart just tries to explain why the quintic is unsolvable or whatever and the lack of detail makes the explanation fairly dodgy.

Overall, though, I'd recommend this book to anyone with a reasonable comprehension of maths who wants to get a grasp
Dec 31, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
Not for everyone. As someone who was good at maths at school, but didn't take it as a subject beyond the age of 16, I found some of the content difficult to follow. Each chapter deals with the development of a particular field of maths. In most chapters I managed to hold my own until about 3/4 through and then it would get beyond me. I still found the book fascinating though and would probably have got more from it in my university years when some of the concepts dealt with we're fresher in my m ...more
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For the most part, the author has made a good effort on presenting complex mathematical concepts comprehensible for people without mathematical background. Some sections could have been better explained, however, the complex nature of the subject is all you can do. Overall the author's effort is very appreciable that he has gone through the efforts of combining history and the mathematical concepts in an interesting blend. The transformation mathematics has took over its long history is very int ...more
Timothy Rowe
I was a little disappointed in this one, but only because I expect great things from Stewart. Unusually for Stewart the mathematics is not all that clearly explained. I occasionally found myself confused by his explanations of stuff I knew. Given that, it's hard to work out who this is pitched at. Mathematicians - even just folks who have read the occasional recreational mathematics book - will find most of it familiar, and those without that background are likely to struggle with it.
André Maia
May 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A nice book!

A lot of doubts that I had when I was studying computer science were remedied with this book. Know how the concepts were created (and imagined), clarified much of question of the type "Why is this the way it is?"

I'm not so good in mathematics (far from it), but this book is nice and I enjoy it, it helped me to connect some concepts and theories that I heard about.

The principal benefits of read this book is: the good perspective that it give to you about mathematics.
Gradinaru Alexandru
A well built book about the history of how mathematics evolved in time, and with chapters dedicated to showing each branch of math, it's properties and uses in real life. Would recommend it to anyone who like math or who is curious about it. Ian Stewart does a great job in popularizing math, so it doesn't seem as obscure as school makes it seem.
Kavi Naidu
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting and engaging read, anyone who is at all interested in mathematics will enjoy this book. It gives a good overview of mathematics, explaining both basic discoveries and more complex ideas that have developed over time. This book was very fun to read, would recommend for reading at night before going to bed.
Dec 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My sketchy mathematical skills left me high and dry sometimes, but here it is really the history of mathematical discoveries and the stories of the mathematicians that are most interesting. Who knows that chaos theory has shown that the Earth would be much less habitable without the tidal forces of the Moon (to give just one example)?
A very pleasant journey through the history of Maths. Only problem (pointed out by the same author)is that too much stuff is treated in it. This book needs a previous deep knowledge of mathematics to be fully understood.
I did not understand everything but I enjoyed the reading.
Bryan Higgs
Apr 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 be taught to every child at this level, just to show what mathematics is *really* all about.

Highly recommended!
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has actually gotten me excited about math! It helps to answer the age old question of every math student 'how does this apply to the real world?'in a very tangible sort of way.
Carmen Rodríguez
More historic than mathematics theory
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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

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