- Paperback: 296 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; With a New preface by the author edition (March 14, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691146004
- ISBN-13: 978-0691146003
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 101 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #813,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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An Imaginary Tale: The Story of [the Square Root of Minus One] (Princeton Science Library) With a New preface by the author Edition
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At the very beginning of his book on i, the square root of minus one, Paul Nahin warns his readers: "An Imaginary Tale has a very strong historical component to it, but that does not mean it is a mathematical lightweight. But don't read too much into that either. It is *not* a scholarly tome meant to be read only by some mythical, elite group.... Large chunks of this book can, in fact, be read and understood by a high school senior who has paid attention to his or her teachers in the standard fare of pre-college courses. Still, it will be most accessible to the million or so who each year complete a college course in freshman calculus.... But when I need to do an integral, let me assure you I have not fallen to my knees in dumbstruck horror. And neither should you."
Nahin is a professor of electrical engineering at the University of New Hampshire; he has also written a number of science fiction short stories. His style is far more lively and humane than a mathematics textbook while covering much of the same ground. Readers will end up with a good sense for the mathematics of i and for its applications in physics and engineering. --Mary Ellen Curtin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 1999
Honorable Mention for the 1998 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Mathematics, Association of American Publishers
"A book-length hymn of praise to the square root of minus one."--Brian Rotman, Times Literary Supplement
"An Imaginary Tale is marvelous reading and hard to put down. Readers will find that Nahin has cleared up many of the mysteries surrounding the use of complex numbers."--Victor J. Katz, Science
"[An Imaginary Tale] can be read for fun and profit by anyone who has taken courses in introductory calculus, plane geometry and trigonometry."--William Thompson, American Scientist
"Someone has finally delivered a definitive history of this 'imaginary' number. . . . A must read for anyone interested in mathematics and its history."--D. S. Larson, Choice
"Attempting to explain imaginary numbers to a non-mathematician can be a frustrating experience. . . . On such occasions, it would be most useful to have a copy of Paul Nahin's excellent book at hand."--A. Rice, Mathematical Gazette
"Imaginary numbers! Threeve! Ninety-fifteen! No, not those kind of imaginary numbers. If you have any interest in where the concept of imaginary numbers comes from, you will be drawn into the wonderful stories of how i was discovered."--Rebecca Russ, Math Horizons
"There will be something of reward in this book for everyone."--R.G. Keesing, Contemporary Physics
"Nahin has given us a fine addition to the family of books about particular numbers. It is interesting to speculate what the next member of the family will be about. Zero? The Euler constant? The square root of two? While we are waiting, we can enjoy An Imaginary Tale."--Ed Sandifer, MAA Online
"Paul Nahin's book is a delightful romp through the development of imaginary numbers."--Robin J. Wilson, London Mathematical Society Newsletter
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I did not find this book too tedious at all. Nothing run into the ground at all. If you encounter sections of this book with math too tedious for you, or if you are simply a more casual reader or don't have the time to go deeper, then do as I did, skip those sections. The vast majority of the book is text. The author is a mathematician, so he used mathematical examples, it is not a course book. I assert that the only way to do justice to math history is to include some math.
Understanding imaginary numbers by the broader historical view offered in this book allowed me deeper insight and the ability to see deeper parallels with other areas of mathematics. Just as there were eons where people had no use for negative numbers, but where negative numbers were found convenient for arithmetic operations and so put into common everyday usage, so it goes for imaginary numbers.
One of the reviewers wrote that this book is an excellent introductory treatment of complex analysis. I believe that reviewer to be a mathematician. I believe that the comment gives the wrong impression. This book is a historical story telling, not at all a text book This book is great for a fun casual read by any curious person.
There was lots of new and insightful stuff in this book for me. Highly recommended. A fun read.