Explores the "masterpieces" of mathematics, seventeen landmarks spanning 2,300 years and representing ten mathematicians. Each of these landmarks, to ...Show synopsisExplores the "masterpieces" of mathematics, seventeen landmarks spanning 2,300 years and representing ten mathematicians. Each of these landmarks, to some degree, changed the way the world was perceived. Each theorem is presented with a description of the state of mathematics at the time, the development of the theorem, a biographical sketch of the mathematician and an outline of the proof with explanation.Hide synopsis
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I've just finished the first chapter... a treasure! The exposition was perfect for recreational reading but with satisfying rigor in the presentation of the proofs. I look forward to reading the rest of the book. I may write more after I finish the book. But so far I can say it is a must read for anyone who wants to solidify their grounding in mathematics. I wish I had read this during high school!
As Dunham points out, most of the great works of art are readily available to anyone. Anyone can listen to a Beethoven symphony or see the Mona Lisa. The truly beautiful theorems of mathematics, though, are considered arcana, and are little know by even the most intelligent folks in other fields. With this book, Dunham is attempting to "democratize" the great math theorems. He has chosen ten theorems which he considered (rightly) some of the most beautiful, most elegant, of all time. Assuming the reader has no more than an Algebra Two level of expertise with math, he leads the way step by step through each theorem, so the reader can have the thrill of enjoying the mathematical "aha!" at core of these theorems. He fleshes out each with some biographical data about the mathematiciam involved, and does a good job explaining each theorem's antecedents and consequences in the history of math. For any intelligent reader who doesn't mind a little algebraic thinking and who, after many year's hiatus, really wants to understand what is amazing about the discipline of mathematics, I do not think a better book than this exists. Furthermore, for folks in technical fields who are unfamiliar with the history of math, this is a wonderful playground to which you will return time and time again.
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