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A Concise History of Mathematics: Fourth Revised Edition (Dover Books on Mathematics) Paperback – August 1, 1987

ISBN-13: 978-0486602554 ISBN-10: 0486602559 Edition: Fourth Edition, Revised
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dirk J. Struik: A Birthday Celebration
Dirk. J. Struik was born in Rotterdam in 1894 and spent most of his teaching career at MIT; he retired in 1960. His Lectures on Classical Differential Geometry, reprinted by Dover in 1988, is still a highly regarded classic, as is his Concise History of Mathematics, one of the first Dover original books in mathematics and first published by Dover in 1948, which reached its current fourth revised edition in 1987.

Professor Struik died on October 21, 2000, twenty-one days after his 106th birthday. Professor. Thomas F. Banchoff of Brown University, longtime friend and colleague of Dr. Struik and an advisor to Dover for the past 30 years, here tells the story of his friend's memorable 100th birthday celebration:

"Dirk Struik was 97 at the time I asked him what he planned to do on his hundredth birthday. He said that his family always had a party, but I then thought of a bright idea, a public celebration lecture where he would sit in the front row and hear people from his past say laudatory things about his contributions. I blurted out, 'What about a lecture on your hundredth birthday?' Without hesitation, he agreed, and that was the start of a grand event.

"Well over two hundred fifty people attended his lecture, about a third who knew him from his mathematical writings, another third acquainted with his work in history and politics, and, according to one wag, the rest wanting to see a hundred-year-old man stand up for an hour. Joan Richards gave a sterling introduction covering the many aspects of his long career. The talk itself was full of personal reflections about the characteristics of these almost legendary figures in modern mathematics and the audience was most appreciative.

"Dirk Struik went on giving lectures, in the United States and in the Netherlands for the next four years. He was a good friend to many people in his long life, and his books on so many subjects will continue to provide inspiration and encouragement to generations of students and teachers." — Tom Banchoff

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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Books on Mathematics
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Fourth Edition, Revised edition (August 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486602559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486602554
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #280,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Joel Sanchez Gonzalez on August 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you are looking for a book that clearly describes the evolution of mathematics, you don't need to try more, this book is for you.
Struik's book, "A Concise History of Mathematics", is a well documented book with the main contributions, dates, and names of the people involved in the development of mathematics from their ancients origins until the first half of the 20th century.
Struik's style of writing is clear and, how the title of the book says, concise, highlighting the relevant discoveries made in the field and relating them in order to give a better understanding of the subject.
Reading is easy for all people because Struik avoids to use formulas where it is not necessary, focusing more in the works of the great mathematicians and describing them of a comprehensible way.
Another excellent feature of the book is the great bibliography that contains, with a many references to other books not only in English, but in other languages also.
Somebody would hope to find more mathematical demonstrations and more illustrations, but this is not the objective of the book, contents in a single volume of 228 pages are the most important facts of the history of the mathematics, therefore, the relationship between cost and content is excellent.
A Concise History of Mathematics is a classical book, written by a world wide recognized author, of a clear and concise manner.
All people interested in this area of the mathematics must have this book in their shelf.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Steven T. Cannon on December 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a particularly clear-minded view of the progression of mathematical history. The book serves to convince that understanding math (as possibly opposed to science) requires a knowledge of its history. The great advance of twentieth century mathematics is its achievement of higher levels of abstraction. But without the history this abstraction is just puff. This book leaves off at 1945.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alan U. Kennington on December 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
I bought this book by Struik 10 years ago and read it 8 years ago. I was not expecting much because it is such a small book in comparison to other books on mathematics history. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Struik managed to include many historical observations which I have not seen in ten or so other books on mathematics history.

Chapter 1 contains speculations on mathematics in the Old Stone Age (which we now call the palaeolithic), which is always very dangerous due to the lack of real evidence, but it's entertaining to speculate anyway.

Chapter 2 covers ancient Egyptian and Babylonian mathematics. This is covered in very much greater detail, and more perspicaciously, by Boyer and Merzbach. Chapter 3 covers ancient Greek mathematics in 27 pages. (Perhaps one could observe that the history of ancient Greek mathematics has been done to death. Everyone who can afford pen and paper seems to have written about it.) Chapter 4 does medieval Arabic mathematics in 12 pages. Chapter 5 does European Renaissance mathematics in 16 pages. Then there's a short chapter each for the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. It's all extremely brief!

One of the greatest strengths of this book is the references to the literature. I have followed many of these "links" in the last 8 years, and it is beneficial to follow them, even though many of them are difficult to obtain.

One of the little surprises in this book is on page 82, where it is explained that Oresme introduced graphs such as we generally think of as Cartesian coordinates, graphing variable Y against variable X, more than 250 years before Descartes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hamid Nassiri on May 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is best suited for readers with a good knowledge of the various fields of mathematics. It does not expound any technical details, but refers to mathematical results with which one should already be acquainted. The author himself was a mathematician who researched the history of mathematics. The result was the material in this book that contains the names of numerous mathematicians and scientists, and their publications with Latin, French, and German titles. Most of the foreign language titles and quotes have English translation in the footnotes.
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Format: Paperback
This volume can be ready by a non-mathematician and still appreciate the historical information that it contains. And it contains a wealth of information, even though the key word of this book is “concise.” We get glimpses of the many famous mathematicians something that I wish the author would have elaborated, but I guess that’s one of the shortcomings to being “concise.”
Struik constantly points out that math has had its practical and nonpractical sides and their adherents, from Babylon times to the present. As the field of math has progressed through the centuries, I was amused to learn that specialties have arisen, so esoteric that some mathematicians have trouble comprehending them, a phenomenon that has occurred in almost every branch of science from physics to psychology to medicine.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A little hard to follow if you're not prepared for the terminology. But, definitely a cool read. Be warned - this author does not use terms in the manner you would normally expect for modern vernacular.
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