- Hardcover: 590 pages
- Publisher: Pearson; 7 edition (November 16, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0201763907
- ISBN-13: 978-0201763904
- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A First Course in Abstract Algebra, 7th Edition 7th Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is broken into many small chapters, each of which can be easily translated into one or two hours of high-quality lecture. Thus, I can structure my lectures to closely follow the book, which has two advantages: (1) less preparation time for me (important when you have a heavy teaching load but still want to do a good job) and (2) The students have effectively a preprinted copy of the classroom lecture notes (so they can spend less time writing notes and more time paying attention and learning).
Fraleigh avoids the countless pitfalls which bedevil the naive algebra instructor (and many other textbook writers). He keeps things simple without making them stupid. Math students at my university have a wide range of background and skills. Some are highly talented and motivated, and I want to adequately prepare these students for graduate school. Others students are `future highschool teachers' (may God help our children) who apparently chose to study math because they thought it would resemble the polynomial arithmetic which they enjoyed in highschool, and who are often quite upset to discover otherwise. For these people, math is `supposed' to be computation, and any kind of logic or abstraction is anathema.
There are some abstract algebra texts (such as Bloch) which are designed to appeal to the `computational' crowd. Abstract algebra is one of the most beautiful and important parts of mathematics, and I describe these books as `algebra murdered and come back rotting from the grave'. There are also algebra books (such as Dummit & Foote, or Michael Artin) which are designed for `future graduate students'. Although I love these books, they are too sophisticated for most of my students. Also, their long chapters and sometimes poor organization means that preparing a decent lecture is often a lot of work.
Fraleigh finds an excellent compromise between these extremes. He develops some quite sophisticated material (including Galois theory and homology), but always finds a way to explain things simply and clearly. He provides exactly the right amount of information (e.g. the right number of examples and corollaries) to allow the instructor to move through the material efficiently (so you can actually finish the syllabus), while still explaining everything clearly. The exposition is lucid, and the books tightly organized. There are plenty of exercises which are challenging, but not too challenging, which is a boon when you are designing homework assignments.
I have a few small issues. For example, I don't think it's a good idea to develop group theory in terms of `abstract binary operations; one should develop it in terms of concrete symmetry groups. Also, I found that the section on the structure theory of finitely generated abelian groups and the chapter on homology theory were both a bit weak and needed to be supplemented. However, these are both very minor complaints compared to the overall quality of the book.
Teaching an advanced pure math course with a poorly designed textbook is a nightmare (and I should know). Teaching algebra using Fraleigh was a snap.
Although, I did not use Fraleigh's textbook directly in the class I attended, I did use it as a frequent source of
explanation and/or practice with it's problem sets. Lets be realistic here, I've seen too many reviews of differnt Algebra
texts from D&F, Artin, Lang, Galian etc., saying something along the lines of "Textbook is not rigorious enough," or
"textbook is weak on theory," "textbook is not approrpiate for undergraduate course," and so on and so forth.
Although I do not deny that certain texts may be written poorely, the vast majority of complaints seem to be generated by certain percieved "defencies" in texts that do not attempt to be laconic (i.e D&F). Obviouslly, there exist suffecient
differences amongst the students who will take Abst. Algebra such that differnt types of textbooks are created to meet the
varying needs of these students.
It is in this context that Fraleigh's textbook should be reviewed. After looking at all the major texts out there for basic undergraduate Algebra (Artin, D&F, Rotman, Herstein, Gallian), I'd say Fraleigh belong somewhere between Galian and Herstein. It is true that it does not cover as much material as D&F, but clearly it was not written with the same purpose in mind as D&F.
If we compare Fraliegh with Herstein we admit that they both cover most of the same subjects in more or less similiar depth.
Herstein beats out Fraliegh 10-1 in all things Linear Algebra. However, I'd say the first 250 pages of "Topics in Algebra" is
roughly equivelent to the 493 pages of Fraleigh. So the question that is asked is why is Fraliegh almost double the size of Herstein?
A quick browse of both books reveals that although the font size (for my copy) is the same, Fraliegh is much more liebral
with the placement of paragraphs and spacing. Whereas "Topics in Algebra" looks cramped and squeezed, Fraleigh's book is much more cosmetic, the pages are littered with
pictures/diagrams, "Historical Notes," numerous drawn out examples. I personally like the spacing in Fraleigh as opposed to Herstein since I feel the former text is much easier to read because of this layout.
If we delve into the actual text-material we do again admit that Herstein is slightly more "mature" then Fraleigh. I believe the exposition in Herstein is probably a little clearer, however, Fraliegh does more "work" for you and gives you more detail. Further Fraleigh gives more application such as to coding, chemistry, and quantum physics etc.. Those who do not believe that the exposition is roughly at the same level, I invite you to turn to p. 83 in Herstein and p. 253 in Fraliegh. Both start with the defintion of rings. Again Herstein spells out the actaul defintion in all 8 axioms. Fraleigh has 3 shortening them by merely giving the condition that a ring must be an abelian group under addition (note it is not always the case that Herstein introduces everything out the long way and Fraleigh the short, more on that later). After defintions, both text introduce examples, again I think most of the examples given by Herstein are rather trivial, whereas Fraleigh's examples are more intresting with some useful links back to Group Theory.
But Fraliegh clearly does more to motivate the reader to learn every new bit of material displayed in the book, althoguh the outline is not always the clearest. This is very evident when comparing the section introducing Fields. Fraleigh commutes the introduction of the topics of fields and homorphisms. Introducing homorphisms of rings first, although it makes little differnece in understanding the material, I muchl liked Herstein's direct introduction. I felt it was more natural to introduce fields then homorphisms, then ID, PID, ED
etc. It just made mroe sense to me, but this is my POV.
Fraliegh again says almost the exact same thing that Herstein does except he has far more exposition (although i found sometimes that the exposition could be a bit confusing). Another observation I'd like to make was I felt Fraleigh was far stronger in its Group Theory sections then it was with Fields and Polynomials. For some reason, the sections on polynomial rings were rather weak for the work we were doing in class and I cannot recommend Fraliegh for this if thats what you need. However, in general I found Fraleigh was easily digestable and could be read very leisurely.
The major drawback of the book of course is its problem sets. Although they are good for extra practice, they are by no means challenging. In this respect, Herstein and the rest are lightyears away from Fraleigh. This setup again is proabbly mroe to do with the differnt philosophies of how a student should learn rather then some weakness in design. Fraleigh nurtures a student so he can take his first steps in the subject and walk. As opposed to D&F whose terse exposition is akin to throwing a child onto the floor and yelling at him to return to you on his own. Which is better? I don't know, but I must certainly say I felt much "happier" when I was reading "A First Course in Algebra."
Again, I feel that Fraleigh's text is a wonderful introduction and supplement to a student (like myself) who did not come from a long and prestigious mathematics background. For this audience, the book is perfect for the first half of Algebra (Group Theory) and somewhat lacking for the second half (Rings, Fields, and Galois) but no book is perfect and given its size and the wealth of knowledge (historywise and application wise) that is stored in this volume I am content with what it offers to the reader. Also, as mentioned, since it covers roughly the same as Herstein, a more difficult class could utilize this book by just offering differnt problem sets to the students with additional supplementary exposition from the instructor. Overall the book is, gentle, flexible, and broad.
I would recommend, if you can afford it, also buying a copy of a zippier book like Hungerford or Dummit & Foote (ask around) and using it together with Fraleigh. Fraleigh won't let you down in terms of giving you the space you sometimes need to grasp things (for example, he gives Tons of examples, and there are plenty of easy exercises that allow you to soak in patterns in the structures for yourself) and an advanced book will give you increased perspective and power.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really like the historical notes and the writing style seems refreshingly...Read more
someone please correct the theorem on page 43! it's so obvious yet so misleading!