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Mathematics in Western Culture (Galaxy Books)

4.6 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195007145
ISBN-10: 019500714X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[Kline] is unfalteringly clear in explaining mathematical ideas; he is learned but not pedantic; he has historical discernment, a sympathetic social outlook and a nice sense of fun and irony.... The beauty and fascination and rare excellence of mathematics emerge from his story. It is an exciting, provocative book."--Scientific American

"Still the best textbook for the history and philosophy of mathematics for undergraduate liberal arts students. Especially good for the age of the Scientific Revulution."--Janet A. Fitzgerald, Molloy College, NY

About the Author

Morris Kline is Professor of Mathematics, Emeritus, at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, where he directed the Division of Electromagnetic Research for twenty years.


The late Richard Courant, headed the Department of Mathematicas at New York University and was Director of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences--which has subsequently renamed the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. His book Mathematical Physics is familiar to every physicist, and his book
Differential and Integral Calculus is acknowledged to be one of the best presentations of the subject written in modern times. Herbert Robbins is New Jersey Professor of Mathematical Statistics at Rutgers University. Ian Stewart is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick, and author of
Nature's Numbers and Does God Play Dice?. He also writes the "Mathematical Recreations" column in Scientific American.
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Product Details

  • Series: Galaxy Books
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 31, 1964)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019500714X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195007145
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 1 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #839,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kersi Von Zerububbel VINE VOICE on January 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is geared to the general reader who has a cursory knowledge of mathematics. The chapters are organized around physical phenomena and the math behind their explanation. The result is a charming and VERY useful book. I have the 1970 edition which is quite worn from frequent use. The chapter titled, Differential Equations - The Heart Of Analysis, is exceptionally beautiful and pertinent. Reading this book is akin to a treasure hunt. There is page after page of mathematical discovery. Reading the chapter on Motion Of Projectiles made me terribly angry at the banal way in which this topic is handled in high school texts. Things such as quadratic equations and the law of gravitation are explained very well. I sincerely believe that this book should be a required text for High School math students. Highly recommended. The Dover edition is very affordable so even if it means foregoing a meal, do it. Buy this book! Well worth your time.
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Format: Paperback
Kline's book is a surprisingly accessible history of math, equations and all. It's a perfect balance for those who know their history and want to know more about the math behind scientific ideas, and those who know their math and want to delve into the practical applications of mathematical ideas.
I loved the examination of how Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the earth pretty accurately for a guy without so much as a telescope. I had terrific "aha" experiences reading the book, and the students I tutor in math are getting a bunch of interesting background stories with their algebra lessons.
Galileo's and Newton's calculations are a great way for the theoretically inclined to get their feet wet in physics. For all of us mathematicians who actually thought math developed in a vacuum, this book has excellent examples of how inextricably linked math, science and history are.
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Format: Paperback
I still have a hard time deciding if this is a book about math or physics, but actually, it's about both. Kline follows the history of physics beginning with the Greeks as a way to describe the evolution of mathematics up to the 20th century, and he does it brilliantly.

Kline is a master teacher, and his enthusiasm for his subject is evident. This is probably the clearest writing on mathematics (and physics) that I have ever seen. His chapters on the differential and integral calculus make their basic principles understandable to anyone with a high-school mathematics education -- not an easy task.

He shows how again and again through history, problems in physics led to mathematical discoveries which not only allowed the physical problems to be solved, but also advanced mathematics itself. And yet nowhere in the book is anything beyond simple algebra and geometry required to understand what he's saying. A remarkable achievement.
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Format: Paperback
I agree with the above review and would simply like to add my own thoughts. The book illustrates the fascinating way in which mathematics, society, religion, politics and of course physics have affected each other (it goes both ways!) through out the ages. Furthermore, the author nicely illustrates the processes by which people think and how those processes have also changed through the ages (i.e., The Age of Reason versus The Renisance). This book left me with real insights as to the nature and limitations of the current state of mathematics and physics. Things are not as they seem, my friend! Lastly, the author displays an appreciation for the humor and irony of the history which makes this book hard to put down at times. I never thought a math/history book could be a "page turner"... Read it.
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By A Customer on September 2, 1998
Format: Paperback
In most mathematics classes, students are presented with a completed edifice, and given a floor plan to help them navigate the halls. While this approach works for many people, others need a little more basic information. In this book, Morris Kline builds the building, starting with the mud and straw of the bricks.
"Mathematics in Western Culture" shows that the history of mathematics is one of hundreds of years of people sitting in the sand, drawing shapes and lines, scratching their heads, and trying to figure things out. This is not necessarily Dr. Kline's intention for the book, but this is certainly one of the many messages to be derived from it.
A fascinating, exciting book which makes mathematics more understandable and accessible.
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Format: Paperback
This book is excellent! Have you ever wondered, where did math come from? What caused/ how has math to developed? If so this book will hit the nail on the head for you. Dr. Kline is fabulous in this book, he explains things very clearly and gives the reader an overview of some of the more practical uses of math. After reading this book you will look at the world with a much better understanding of how math is used in the real world.

Kline also explains why math is so abstract (think of the way American schools teach math). Along with this he explains why math is so precise (due to it's being limited to using inductive reasoning only).

In fact, this book is a humanities course mixed in with the practical usage of mathematics, which all add up to a brilliant text. But don't be mislead, the book is not absent of the actual equations to help you understand some of the math. It's just simplified so as to be short of a textbook on how to do mathematics.

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