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God Created the Integers: The Mathematical Breakthroughs that Changed History Hardcover – October 4, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0762419227 ISBN-10: 0762419229

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1176 pages
  • Publisher: Running Press (October 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762419229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762419227
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.7 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"God created the integers," wrote mathematician Leopold Kronecker, "All the rest is the work of Man." In this collection of landmark mathematical works, editor Stephen Hawking has assembled the greatest feats humans have ever accomplished using just numbers and their brains. Each of the 17 sections opens with a historical introduction of the featured author, and proceeds to a faithful translation of their most famous work. While most mathematicians will already have complete editions of Isaac Newton's Principia or Georg Cantor's Contributions to the Founding of the Theory of Transfinite Numbers, this book is unique in presenting just the best bits of these and other theoretical works. The collection spans 2,500 years and covers a vast range of theories: the parallel postulate, Boolean logic, differential calculus, and the philosophy of the unknowable among them. Dense with numbers, formulae, and ideas, God Created the Integers is quite challenging, but Hawking rewards curious readers with a look at how mathematics has been built. In contrast to the towering physical edifices of great civilizations of the past, Hawking writes, "The greatest wonder of the modern world is our understanding." --Therese Littleton


"God created the integers, all the rest is the work of man."

More About the Author

Stephen Hawking's ability to make science understandable and compelling to a lay audience was established with the publication of his first book, A Brief History of Time, which has sold nearly 10 million copies in 40 languages. Hawking has authored or participated in the creation of numerous other popular science books, including The Universe in a Nutshell, A Briefer History of Time, On the Shoulders of Giants, The Illustrated On the Shoulders of Giants, and George's Secret Key to the Universe.

Customer Reviews

Unfortunately, I cannot find any errata for this book on the publisher's site.
This book is a many-in-one exposition of some of the biggest works in mathematics and it does it well.
Aye Aye Maung
This is a book that can be read several times and more can be learned each time read.
Don Hudson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

260 of 271 people found the following review helpful By W. Stevens on March 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
First, I loved the idea of this book--a compendum of the more significant mathematical breakthroughs in all their detail, as written by their creators. The text is refreshing in that it is not a watered down version of someone's results. I have a math background and all the details are appreciated. There's something about reading the original text, straight from the minds of these great men.

This book could be useful, for example, for someone who likes math and wants a 'sampler' of different areas of study. It could also be useful for someone reading up on the history of mathematics who wants to dig deeper into certain areas and see the original works.

All that said, I have to agree with another reviewer about the editing. It's awful (yes, awful) that such typographical errors could exist in a math book. The first section I looked at in this book, Riemann's original paper on the zeta function, had four typos ON THE SAME PAGE. This is disasterous to someone trying to learn the material for the first time, or someone trying to follow a tight line of argument. If this was a college text book, I'd probably burn it, because learning math is difficult enough, without having to contend with typos. To the editors of this book: COME ON GUYS, YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED (YES, ASHAMED) OF YOURSELVES (you're just COPYING something someone else wrote--and yet you managed to mess that up)! At least put an errata page somewhere online.
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206 of 218 people found the following review helpful By R. E. Little on November 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's not for everyone, but if you have a couple of years of college-level math, you can find your way through most of the material. Open to a random page, see what's going on, if it grabs you, find the beginning of the presentation and plow right in. Hawking's biographical/historical pieces are a delight and worth buying the book for even if you don't do the math. How come I graded one of the greatest minds of our time only 80% (4 stars)? The damn book has no index and it drives me crazy. Because of this defect, it's a pain to try to tie the work of the great mathematicians together. You miss out on an entire layer of interest that could be developed so much more easily had their been an index.
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110 of 115 people found the following review helpful By silmarilli on March 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I really want to give this book at least 4 stars as I love the idea of encapsulating those great mathematical breakthroughs in one book and giving each a proper account instead of over simplistic summaries like many other math readings do.

HOWEVER, the errors contained in this book is intolerable. It doesn't make sense anymore to give those mathematical details as you can hardly follow them due to the errors.

For example, on page 5 it prints:

If (2^n - 1) is a prime number then 2^(n-1)*(2^(n-1)-1) is a perfect number and that even perfect numbers must have this form.

it obveriously should be 2^(n-1)*(2^n - 1) instead of what has been printed. As other readers have suggested, you would expect more similar errors along the way.

Don't buy this book and wait for the 2nd edition if the publisher ever want to make an effort to make this book readable. I'm so very disappointed.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Mambretti on December 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
To evaluate my comments, I think you should know who I am and why I bought this book: I'm a former technical editor and writer. As a girl, I was discouraged from studying math, because at the time (the Fifties and Sixties) they thought girls couldn't understand it.

Recently I've tried to fill in the gaps in my math and science education. I thought the idea of Hawkings choosing landmark math texts and commenting on them was fantastic. After spending three days trying to understand the Euclidian proof of the Pythagorean theorem, and concluding I was just too dumb, I turned the page and discovered that according to the commentary the proof was for an isosceles right triangle, while the illustration was not isosceles.

Other reviewers have commented on the egregious errors and typos. I'd like to add that the whole publication is a typographical horror. The publisher should be ashamed. The font size is miniscule. The illustrations are often misleading. Hawkings may have chosen the texts, but the publisher apparently selected the editions based not on quality of translation but whether the copyright had expired: most appear to be nineteenth-century and to include outdated commentaries. At first I thought the commentaries were by Hawkings, but they aren't, and this was not only a disappointment but also a source of my confusion at several points where I couldn't understand them.

I would be surprised if even ten percent of the book is authored by Hawkings. Given this, the ghastly page layout, inaccurate reprints of outdated texts, and amateurish copyediting, this book is overpriced.

IF YOU'RE MATHEMATICALLY LITERATE, you will likely find Hawkings' material a joy to read. Even I -- with my limited background -- am able to appreciate some of it.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Dance Ham on February 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I do not regret spending $30 on this text, but I feel it is not worth the money.

There are a few fundamental problems with the book.

First, Someone is only going to buy a book this nerdy if they are really into the subject. If they're really into the subject, they will probably want the full texts, not highlighted excerpts. Highlighted excerpts are handy as a reference, but since there is no index, this cannot be considered a reference book.

Second - it's nice that these works have Hawking's Seal of Approval, but the fact that Hawking has is name on this seems like nothing more than a marketing ploy. Most people buy Hawking's books because he makes a difficult subject easy. This being a collection of others' work makes me think that the publishers used Hawking's reputation to move copies.

Third - no index. That's ridiculous for a book like this.

Overall, I'm happy with the book, but I think it fails because it hovers between a reference book and a historical collection.

If you're serious about studying the subjects covered, I would suggest spending your money on the Dover edition of what you're looking for. Buy this book if you're an enthusiast and want some stimulating reading.
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