- Hardcover: 314 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (July 28, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780471536567
- ISBN-13: 978-0471536567
- ASIN: 0471536563
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 39 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,294,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Mathematical Universe: An Alphabetical Journey Through the Great Proofs, Problems, and Personalities 1st Edition
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From Library Journal
Like John Allen Paulos's Beyond Numeracy (LJ 4/1/91), this is an A-to-Z collection of mathematical essays. The advantage of this format is that it lets the author hit the highlights in essays that can be read independently. This collection is less cantankerous than Paulos's, and it is also somewhat more focused and mathematically challenging, though still written for a popular audience. Dunham (Journey Through Genius: The Great Theorems of Mathematics, Wiley, 1990) is winner of the 1993 George Polya Award for excellence in math writing, an honor he richly deserves. He is fascinated by the nature of mathematical genius, and the theme of these essays is the personality and eccentricities of mathematicians and the brilliance of their discoveries. For sophisticated readers who don't mind equations (including algebra, geometry, and calculus), this is a rewarding and entertaining look at the history of mathematics.
Amy Brunvand, Fort Lewis Coll. Lib., Durango, Col.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Start with a for Arithmetic and wend your way to z, the symbol for complex numbers, and you will have completed Dunham's wonderfully informative tour of mathematics. Readers ought not turn away from this book because equations make them queazy and formulas leave them confused. Dunham writes for nonspecialists, and they will enjoy his piquant anecdotes and amusing asides even if they cannot follow all of his (simplified) derivations and illustrative problems. What president published an original proof of the Pythagorean theorem just four years before his election? What Nobel laureate unearthed a paradox that discredited his own logical system? What distinguished mathematician and scientist wrote almost a million words on alchemy? In providing the surprising answers to these and other questions, Dunham sheds light not only on the personalities--eccentric, vain, brilliant--of major mathematicians, but also on contemporary social issues, such as multiculturalism and gender equity. Readers who want to understand the cultural significance of mathematics would do well to begin with this book. Bryce Christensen
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Dunham utilizes his gift for giving clear expositions in an entertaining and engaging manner. Another good read.
This book does not really seem to have any real organization to it as his other works. And his writing is targeted to appeal to the pedestrian reader he tries a bit hard to be amusing.
It almost seems that Dunham is out of his comfort zone trying to write for the masses and not turn people off with the math.
Yes there is the math in the book, but it really is nothing of interest to the math student or math types. Unlike Journey through Genius, where he does not seem to worry about whether he lost the average reader and writes more towards the math crowd who want the math and historical.
In his other works he really does a great job of presenting the topics in a cohesive manner which develops the context and almost tells a story. In this book the organization is almost random.
The 5 stars is because for the masses, this is an easy read and hopefully will entice readers to really go back and at least try to develop a deeper understanding of math.
Also, Dunham does have his favorites and he makes that clear in his books. Everyone will have their favorites in a subject so broad with such a long history of great discovery.