Bernhard Riemann was an underdog of sorts, a malnourished son of a parson who grew up to be the author of one of mathematics' greatest problems. In Prime Obsession, John Derbyshire deals brilliantly with both Riemann's life and that problem: proof of the conjecture, "All non-trivial zeros of the zeta function have real part one-half." Though the statement itself passes as nonsense to anyone but a mathematician, Derbyshire walks readers through the decades of reasoning that led to the Riemann Hypothesis in such a way as to clear it up perfectly. Riemann himself never proved the statement, and it remains unsolved to this day. Prime Obsession offers alternating chapters of step-by-step math and a history of 19th-century European intellectual life, letting readers take a breather between chunks of well-written information. Derbyshire's style is accessible but not dumbed-down, thorough but not heavy-handed. This is among the best popular treatments of an obscure mathematical idea, inviting readers to explore the theory without insisting on page after page of formulae.In 2000, the Clay Mathematics Institute offered a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who could prove the Riemann Hypothesis, but luminaries like David Hilbert, G.H. Hardy, Alan Turing, André Weil, and Freeman Dyson have all tried before. Will the Riemann Hypothesis ever be proved? "One day we shall know," writes Derbyshire, and he makes the effort seem very worthwhile. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Bernhard Riemann would make any list of the greatest mathematicians ever. In 1859, he proposed a formula to count prime numbers that has defied all attempts to prove it true. This new book tackles the Riemann hypothesis. Partly a biography of Riemann, Derbyshire's work presents more technical details about the hypothesis and will probably attract math recreationists. It requires, however, only a college-prep level of knowledge because of its crystalline explanations. Derbyshire treats the hypothesis historically, tracking increments of progress with sketches of well-known people, such as David Hilbert and Alan Turing, who have been stymied by it. Carrying a million-dollar bounty, the hypothesis is the most famous unsolved problem in math today, and interest in it will be both sated and stoked by these able authors. Gilbert Taylor
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Excellent book. It's a lot of fun for those who like at least one of the following: math, science, history, biographies. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Michael Mirman
This is a book on advanced math that pulls few punches and yet reads almost like a mystery novel. In an engaging style, Derbyshire very nearly manages a miracle: taking any reader... Read morePublished 1 month ago by James H. Thomas
A good read about a mathematician who worked in many different fields of mathematics and excelled in all of them. Read morePublished 1 month ago by W Kowalsky
A truly excellent book which not only explains Riemann's Hypothesis but provides an excellent historical and mathematical context as well. Read morePublished 2 months ago by builder1008
I bought this in the Kindle version for my Kindle Fire HD. As you would expect, there are many mathematical formulas. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Richard Yates
John Derbyshire alternates between mathematics and history to explain the Riemann Hypothesis which defines "the number of prime numbers below a given quantity". Read morePublished 4 months ago by Joseph Bernard