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D.S. Larson
In a letter dated 1852, the Irish mathematician Hamilton wrote to his English friend De Morgan, "I see that either you or I must write a history of the square root of -1". Roughly 150 years after this correspondence, someone finally has delivered a definitive history of this "imaginary" number. . A must read for anyone interested in mathematics and its history.— Choice Magazine
Overview
Today complex numbers have such widespread practical use--from electrical engineering to aeronautics--that few people would expect the story behind their derivation to be filled with adventure and enigma. In An Imaginary Tale, Paul Nahin tells the 2000-year-old history of one of mathematics' most elusive numbers, the square root of minus one, also known as i. He recreates the baffling mathematical problems that conjured it up, and the colorful characters who tried to solve them....