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Mathematics: The New Golden Age Rev Sub Edition

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231116398
ISBN-10: 023111639X
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Editorial Reviews


Excellent.... He presents us with a series of colorful personalities and seminal ideas [and] conveys all of the power, beauty and excitement of mathematics.... Well-written, informative.

(Mathematical Association of America (of the first ed.))

A beautiful, rich book.

(Guardian (of the first ed.))

Devlin's choice of material is excellent, and he is to be praised for the clarity and accuracy with which he presents it.

(Martin Gardner New York Review of Books (of the first ed.))

Devlin makes the beauty of math apparent, the most esoteric of concepts sing. If more scientists wrote with Devlin's simplicity and feeling, the world would be a much more informed place.

(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

About the Author

Keith Devlin is the Dean of Science at Saint Mary's College of California and a Senior Researcher at Stanford University's Center for the Study of Language and Information. Since 1983, he has been a regular columnist on mathematics and computing for the Guardian newspaper in England, and he is the mathematics commentator on National Public Radio's popular "Weekend Edition" magazine program. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the author of twenty-three books on mathematics and computing, including Life by Numbers and The Language of Mathematics.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; Rev Sub edition (March 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 023111639X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231116398
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Keith Devlin is a mathematician at Stanford University in California. He is a co-founder and Executive Director of the university's H-STAR institute, a co-founder of the Stanford Media X research network, and a Senior Researcher at CSLI. He has written 31 books and over 80 published research articles. His books have been awarded the Pythagoras Prize and the Peano Prize, and his writing has earned him the Carl Sagan Award, and the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics Communications Award. In 2003, he was recognized by the California State Assembly for his "innovative work and longtime service in the field of mathematics and its relation to logic and linguistics." He is "the Math Guy" on National Public Radio. (Archived at

He is a World Economic Forum Fellow and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His current research is focused on the use of different media to teach and communicate mathematics to diverse audiences. He also works on the design of information/reasoning systems for intelligence analysis. Other research interests include: theory of information, models of reasoning, applications of mathematical techniques in the study of communication, and mathematical cognition.

He writes a monthly column for the Mathematical Association of America, "Devlin's Angle":

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Michael Vanier on September 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is the best popular math book I've ever read. The first edition of this book was responsible for rekindling my interest in pure mathematics after a long layoff (which has persisted to this day). The author covers some topics that are typically covered in popular math books (such as chaos theory and the difficulty of factoring large prime numbers). Fortunately, most of the book is devoted to topics that are rarely dealt with in such books, such as the classification of finite simple groups, the class number problem, and the Riemann hypothesis. The new edition also contains an expanded section on Fermat's last theorem (which has been proved since the first edition came out). What I like about Devlin's style is that he goes into the math to a much more significant extent than most popular science writers and yet still keeps everything easy to understand for anyone with (say) an understanding of basic calculus. The only (minor) criticism I have of the book is that Devlin often gets tantalizingly close to a major result and then begs off with the statement "the full result can only be understood by specialists". Most of the time, this makes little difference, but with the class number problem (which, among other things, explains why exp(sqrt(163)*Pi) is almost an integer), he leads you along a fascinating journey and then doesn't explain the original motivating problem (why exp(sqrt(163)*Pi) is almost an integer). However, this is a minor nit and doesn't significantly detract from a fascinating book.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
The phrase "Golden Age" is most often used to refer to an era when the dominant players exhibited characteristics that are later called "amateurish." For example, the fifties are often called the golden age of American television and the thirties and forties the golden age of science fiction. However, like most such glittery phrases, it can be redefined to suit ones purposes, and that is what Devlin does here. He takes as his era of consideration the years since 1960.
Some of the topics are those that have been resolved in this time span, such as the four-color problem, the classification of simple groups, Hilbert's Tenth Problem, and the Continuum Hypothesis. Others are some that have been created by the advent of computers, such as fractals, chaos, and the efficiency of algorithms. Finally, there are those where only significant progress has been made, such as Fermat's Last Theorem, factoring large numbers, and Knot Theory. All are dealt with in a manner that will allow the non-technical person to understand them. The writing is clear, concise, and direct.
With over half of the material dealing directly with work done on computers, it is clear that the author's use of the phrase is correct. However, this era will go down in history as the original golden age of the use of computers in mathematics and not as a new golden age of mathematics alone.
Strongly recommended as a primer on major mathematical accomplishments since 1960, this book can be enjoyed by amateurs and professionals alike.

Published in Journal of Recreational Mathematics, reprinted with permission
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
From the length of the British coast to the feedback process between order and chaos, Keith Devlin's Mathematics provides a surprisingly non-technical tour of new developments in the field of math since 1960, revising a classic to encompass new theories of the 1980s and 1990s. Mathematician/author Devlin claims we are in a 'new golden age' of math advancements: this links math achievements to new science findings as a whole.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Marc Mest on February 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Math books have been "in" for a while and very few authors are actually good at making it engaging without being too clever for their own good.

Devlin is one of those who excels at writing popular math. His writing is clear and intructional without being academic. Though you will be hard pressed to find proofs or any equations or formulas in this book.

This book is targeted simply to the masses, which I am all for if it gives someone a reason not to be mad at math since they had to take Algebra 2.

Devlin does a great job of developing the history and puts the math into context. Some of this is not very new, except that technology has made it possible to provide proofs or find an application beyond theory. (okay that was pretty generic of statment ).

For math types this will not be anything new, but that is fine, as long as it encourages the masses.
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