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Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality Hardcover – October 1, 2013
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What if you had to take an art class in which you were only taught how to paint a fence? What if you were never shown the paintings of van Gogh and Picasso, werent even told they existed? Alas, this is how math is taught, and so for most of us it becomes the intellectual equivalent of watching paint dry.
In Love and Math, renowned mathematician Edward Frenkel reveals a side of math weve never seen, suffused with all the beauty and elegance of a work of art. In this heartfelt and passionate book, Frenkel shows that mathematics, far from occupying a specialist niche, goes to the heart of all matter, uniting us across cultures, time, and space.
Love and Math tells two intertwined stories: of the wonders of mathematics and of one young mans journey learning and living it. Having braved a discriminatory educational system to become one of the twenty-first centurys leading mathematicians, Frenkel now works on one of the biggest ideas to come out of math in the last 50 years: the Langlands Program. Considered by many to be a Grand Unified Theory of mathematics, the Langlands Program enables researchers to translate findings from one field to another so that they can solve problems, such as Fermats last theorem, that had seemed intractable before.
At its core, Love and Math is a story about accessing a new way of thinking, which can enrich our lives and empower us to better understand the world and our place in it. It is an invitation to discover the magic hidden universe of mathematics.
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From Publishers Weekly
- Publisher : Basic Books; 2nd Printing edition (October 1, 2013)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0465050743
- ISBN-13 : 978-0465050741
- Reading age : 13 years and up
- Grade level : 8 and up
- Item Weight : 1.15 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 1.25 x 9.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #931,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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But to me, as I love math also, even these pages are interesting. The mathematical terms, Lie Groups, automorphic functions, Riemann surfaces, etc. are another exciting world that I will never fully understand but can read in books like this one and get a level of some of the enthusiasm that I felt as a math major in college, prior to entering the business world.
I agree, however, that the average reader may be turned off by all of this, and possibly not finish the book. However, if you have a love of math, either current, or dormant and want to revitalize it, then pick up and read this book. You will probably enjoy it like I did.
The autobiographical part of the book is moving, and details Frenkel's travails in the declining days of the Soviet empire when open antisemitism caused some of the Soviet Union's most talented young people to be denied entry to the best graduate schools solely because of their Jewish origin. Fortunately Frenkel managed to overcome this, begin his career and eventually make his way out. The most heartrending part of this story is that Frenkel in fact grew up with little knowledge or experience of Jewish tradition or practice in any positive way; for him it was simply a millstone around his neck.
The second part of the writing, about Frenkel's main interest in mathematics, the so called Langland's program, is less successful. He jumps from elementary concepts to advanced language in a way that few non-experts will follow. Recently Frenkel has posted a series of YouTube videos on this which give a much more gradual exposition is about six hours of video; I recommend those.
As someone deeply passionate about mathematics, but having very little talent, this book was able to open very many doors of understanding for me that previously were closed.
The mathematics in here is not conceptually dumbed down and readers should expect to think and reflect to get the full value from the book.
Stylistically the book alternates often between an autobiographical chapter and then a beautiful exposition of the mathematics Edward was studying. I disagree entirely with reviewers who have said the book is too autobiographical or that it is self-congratulatory. It is very clearly a passionate and cheerful exposition of Edward's favorite mathematics, which is balanced beautifully with his fascinating and interesting autobiography as a mathematician.
There are many ways to read this book and benefit - however I find that because the mathematics he is discussing is so advanced, it will probably appeal most to people who are interested or intrigued with mathematics (and quantum physics). It will help mathematicians explain their concepts in simpler language, and help lay people understand part of why mathematics is so beautiful and powerful.
The topics include group theory, knot theory, analysis, number theory, sheaf theory, abstract algebra, gauge theory, and the laglands program which ties many of these ideas together.
While the book succeeds in presenting extremely advanced mathematical ideas in very simple language, any passionate reader should read the book multiple times to truly absorb the concepts and see the connections at a deeper level.
For a comparison - The book is nowhere near as challenging, rigorous, or complicated as roger penrose's road to reality. At the same time, it is more conceptually focused than ian stewart's books. It is more rigorous than Steven Stroglat'z 'joy of x' - All of these characteristics form its strength - I will happily recommend this book to anyone interested in mathematics or wanting to understand quantum physics better.
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I read Love and Maths alongside Hacking’s “Why is there a Philosophy of Maths at all”, and at least in the first few days, I persevered with the dual task until I eventually focused on Frenkel almost exclusively. I’ve now read the book twice and must admit to having been moved from being merely entertained to being seriously impressed.
The title and the first few largely biographical chapters are, in truth, slightly misleading. Once Frenkel gets going, however, he impresses as a serious writer with no quarter given for the less than serious reader. But the “cost”, as can happen so often, is not clarity of accessibility. This last point is interesting. The way that Frenkel ensures no compromise is by providing, in the main body of the book, a fairly low lying terrain. Think of this as a strenuous but ultimately achievable trek up Kilamanjaro. Yes, you have to be able to breath the thin air, but there are no serious 5:5 stretches. You don’t need your climbing rope and crampons or ice pick. However, laced, literally page by page, are footnotes that are more like the diversion to K2. And what an amazing diversion. You can (if you want) be seriously addressed with credible mathematical discourses, and yet stay the course if you feel threatened. Its a smart way of delivering a superb read.
Leaving aside this very clever mechanism, the heart of the book brings together a beautifully crafted exposition of the importance of the Langlands programme with a topical weft and weave of contemporary maths.
A few months after I read the book a second time I had the chance to meet Frenkel very briefly. He is a disarming and charming man with a steely eyed determination to convey his feelings. The book is the same. Don’t be fooled by the title, and don’t give up in the foothills. The peaks are what count. You will be infected by the love of the subject that so many of us wish we could share with loads more people. I just hope the book gets more of an audience in Britain.
Frenkel also wrote the obit for Grothendieck in the NY Times. Well worth the read for those who dont know a mathematician who may well deserve the title of the 20th century's greatest (and yes, I include Godel, Hilbert and Weyl et al in that comparison).
A distinctive feature of this book is that its author is one of the best mathematicians of our time. He combines his deep mathematical work with applying his time and effort to explain art of mathematics in different forms, ranging from movies to books.
He is a most gifted presenter who is able to explain mathematical concepts in a nice and understandable way. He does this very emotionally and this book exerts a deep impact.
The book contains a very sincere description of the author's path in mathematics, which is very dramatic. The narrative reads like a text of a movie.
The author convincingly writes about many ways how love is important for mathematical work and how mathematical discovery is similar in its nature to various forms of art.
Do not hesitate to order and read this book, you will be so much rewarded. Most likely, you will discover how much different is mathematics from what you thought it was. And then, give it to your friends and relatives to read.