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Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality by [Frenkel, Edward]
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Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 217 customer reviews

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Length: 306 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

U.C. Berkley mathematician Frenkel reveals the joy of pure intellectual discovery in this autobiographical story of determination, passion, and the Langlands program—a sort of Grand Unified Field Theory of mathematics. As a teenager Frenkel was converted from math hater to eager theorist by a mathematical friend of the family, enough to pursue it despite his struggles against an unapologetically anti-Semitic Soviet educational system. Frenkel writes casually of climbing over the fence to sit in on advanced classes at Moscow State University, a top school that didn&'t accept Jews. With the help of mentors, he worked hard and eventually found his way to Harvard and the freedom to focus on his research. Frenkel balances autobiographical narrative with enthusiastic discussions of his own work on the Langlands program, a web of algebraic conjectures named after a Canadian mathematician that is noted for its usefulness in organizing seemingly chaotic data into regular patterns full of symmetry and harmony, and its applications to quantum theory. While the math can be heavy going, Frenkel&'s gusto will draw readers into his own quest, pursuing the deepest realities of mathematics as if it were a giant jigsaw puzzle, in which no one knows what the final image is going to look like. B&w illus. (Oct.)

From Booklist

After Rick and Isla meet at a dinner party and fall in love, what’s next? For Frenkel, it is the mathematical charting of the Rick-Isla relationship as a trajectory on the x-y plane. The surprising notion of a “formula of love” fits into the remarkable understanding of math Frankel unfolds as he recounts his labors on conceptual frontiers where an audacious new master theory, the Langlands Program, is linking geometry, number theory, and algebra. To qualify for a role in those labors, Frenkel defied the anti-Semitism pervading the Soviet academic world in which he came of age and then won appointment to a Harvard professorship. Aware that few of his readers share his academic training, Frenkel pares the technical details to a minimum as he reflects on the platonic transcendence of mathematical concepts and marvels at their mysterious utility in explaining physical phenomena. Not merely dry formulas in textbooks, the math Frenkel celebrates fosters freedom and, yes, even distills the essence of love. A breathtaking personal and intellectual odyssey. --Bryce Christensen

Product Details

  • File Size: 11445 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (October 1, 2013)
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2013
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BKRW5E6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,244 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Irfan A. Alvi VINE VOICE on December 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
First of all, let's be honest and not mislead the general reader - this book covers a lot of highly advanced math. The author, Edward Frenkel, likely does as well as anyone could to outline the math in a way that a non-specialist audience can usefully grasp if they put in considerable effort and re-reading, but even then the reader needs to be comfortable with math at least at the undergrad level (calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, etc.). Don't expect to really 'understand' what Frenkel is talking about unless you have considerably greater math background, say grad school level and prior familiarity with the particular areas of math Frenkel covers.

Being an engineer, I fall into the former category and came to this book already loving math, and I found the math in this book to often be quite tough going (especially in the second half of the book), though I did get a rough sense of what he was talking about (and I followed the advice to keep going in the tougher parts rather than getting bogged down). True, I could re-read the whole book to get a better understanding, but realistically it would make more sense to bone up on the prerequisite math using other books and then return to this book in a few years (yes, that long). Because I feel that the accessibility of this book for the general reader has been overstated by the book's endorsers and overestimated by the author, I'm deducting a star.

That said, I did enjoy this book greatly and am glad that I read it.
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Format: Hardcover
Edward Frenkel is one of the great mathematicians in the world, and in this book he voices an ancient complaint: "Intelligent people would never say, 'I don't care about art, or music. But it is totally okay to say, 'I hate math.'" The usual antidote is to show people that math can be fun and useful as in The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, or even exciting and sexy as in Numb3rs. Another species of popular math books and movies (such as Perfect Rigor, Pi, A Beautiful Mind and Good Will Hunting) imply (in Frenkel's words), "a mathematician is on the verge of a mental illness."

Love and Math takes a novel approach. The author loves math with a deep intensity that has animated an extraordinary life story, and he has the rare ability to explain why. The only comparable work I know is Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time. Both Frenkel and Hawking discuss work normally considered too advanced even for non-specialist professionals in their fields, in terms any serious reader can comprehend, without resorting to trite analogy or oversimplification.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In the preface Frenkel hooks you by explaining that all the Math you ever learned in school was only a small part of the story and most of us have never been shown the masterpieces. He makes the analogy of learning about art without ever being shown a da Vinci or Picasso. There is truth to this. But as the book progresses Frenkel drags the reader through murkier and murkier waters until all but the most well schooled mathematician could hope to see but a fraction of what Frankel is trying to show.

It also does not help that Frankel writes badly. His prose is truly boring and uninspired. So even the autobiographical parts of the book, which the non-mathematician could easily follow, are tough to slog through.

I do give the author credit for the choice of subject matter. Group Theory, Topology, Reimann Surfaces and ties to Quantum Physics and String Theory are some of the jewels of Mathematics. However, Frenkel lacks what many genius mathematicians lack: empathy. He is unable to empathize with the plight of the mathematically unsophisticated reader and hence leave even the motivated lost, dazed and confused.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although much of the Mathematics (especially in the endnotes) is beyond my capability (even though I have a graduate degree in Math) the story of how this man fell in love with Math, overcame the anti-semitism in the Soviet educational system to become a Mathematician, and sought connections both within Mathematics and between Mathematics and Physics is fascinating and vividly told. My advice to the reader-- just skip what you don't understand. There is enough here without that to make for interesting reading.
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