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Title:
The story of mathematics
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Publication Information:
New York : Plenum Press, 1993
ISBN:
9780306445088
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30000002496580 QA21 M67 1993 Open Access Book Book
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Summary

Summary

How did Archimedes raise the water level of the Nile River? Why did Catherine the Great and Euler conspire to banish Diderot from the Russian Court? Learn about Descartes' military career as well as his discovery of analytic geometry. Explore both the lives and remarkable careers of history's greatest mathematical legends. In the tradition of their acclaimed The Story of Physics, two renowned science writers - Lloyd Motz and Jefferson Hane Weaver - present a sweeping narrative that spans the glorious history of mathematics and paints vivid sketches of the most famous and prominent mathematicians through the centuries. These respected authors lead us from the birth of arithmetic through calculus and beyond. They delve into the intriguing theory of numbers, explore the challenges of probability theory, and reveal the wonders of the theory of relativity. The quest to impose a basic mathematical order on our daily lives began with the early Greeks and Alexandrians. In exciting and accessible prose, we rediscover the insights of the great mathematical minds beginning in antiquity with Euclid, through the mystical teachings of Pythagoras, and continuing with later geniuses such as Newton, Gauss, and Euler. The courage and daring of these innovative thinkers revolutionized our world and conferred an order and predictability to the universe. What is remarkable throughout this journey is how inextricably mathematics and physics are intertwined. Each subject depends upon and encourages the development of the other. Together they form a tapestry of knowledge that surpasses what either field could ever accomplish alone. What is the future of mathematics? Can it ever hope to achieve the heights it once reached during the Golden Age of Mathematics? Motz and Weaver successfully illustrate how the torch of knowledge and discovery can be passed on to a new, brilliant generation of mathematicians.


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Choice Review

Motz and Weaver proclaim their work not a history, but a discourse on the development of mathematics from the early Greeks to the present. The presentation is both chronological and topical, showing subdivisions of mathematics and their development and maturation. Each chapter is peppered with accounts of mathematicians and their contributions. Biographical tidbits are included for interest, but exhaustive personal accounts are avoided. Both a strength and weakness of the book is that contributions are presented as statements of ideas without the use of examples, illustrations, or explanations. Although the book is readable because mathematical notation is absent, this also means that a grasp of mathematics may be a prerequisite for full application of the book. The authors have done a good job at capturing the essence of mathematics and showing how it has matured; they have suggested the forces and motivations that have shaped mathematics. Graduate; faculty. W. R. Lee; Iowa State University