Indiscrete Thoughts / Edition 1

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Overview

Indiscrete Thoughts gives a glimpse into a world that has seldom been described, that of science and technology as seen through the eyes of a mathematician. The era covered by this book, 1950 to 1990, was surely one of the golden ages of science as well as of the American university.

Cherished myths are debunked along the way as Gian-Carlo Rota takes pleasure in portraying, warts and all, some of the great scientific personalities of the period —Stanislav Ulam (who, together with Edward Teller, signed the patent application for the hydrogen bomb), Solomon Lefschetz (Chairman in the 1950s of the Princeton mathematics department), William Feller (one of the founders of modern probability theory), Jack Schwartz (one of the founders of computer science), and many others.

Rota is not afraid of controversy. Some readers may even consider these essays indiscreet. After the publication of the essay "The Pernicious Influence of Mathematics upon Philosophy" (reprinted six times in five languages) the author was blacklisted in analytical philosophy circles. Indiscrete Thoughts should become an instant classic and the subject of debate for decades to come.

"Read Indiscrete Thoughts for its account of the way we were and what we have become; for its sensible advice and its exuberant rhetoric."--The Mathematical Intelligencer

"Learned, thought-provoking, politically incorrect, delighting in paradox, and likely to offend—but everywhere readable and entertaining."--The American Mathematical Monthly

"It is about mathematicians, the way they think, and the world in which they live. It is 260 pages of Rota calling it like he sees it... Readers are bound to find his observations amusing if not insightful. Gian-Carlo Rota has written the sort of book that few mathematicians could write. What will appeal immediately to anyone with an interest in research mathematics are the stories he tells about the practice of modern mathematics."--MAA Reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

From the reviews:

"Read Indiscrete Thoughts for its account of the way we were and what we have become; for its sensible advice and its exuberant rhetoric."

--The Mathematical Intelligencer

"Learned, thought-provoking, politically incorrect, delighting in paradox, and likely to offend—but everywhere readable and entertaining."

--The American Mathematical Monthly

"It is about mathematicians, the way they think, and the world in which the live. It is 260 pages of Rota calling it like he sees it... Readers are bound to find his observations amusing if not insightful. Gian-Carlo Rota has written the sort of book that few mathematicians could write. What will appeal immediately to anyone with an interest in research mathematics are the stories he tells about the practice of modern mathematics."

--MAA Reviews

"This is a paperback reprint, in the Modern Birkhäuser Classics series, of a book first published in 1997. It has aged very well, and richly deserves its inclusion in this series. … an excellent book, fun to read, and interesting to think about." (Fernando Q. Gouvêa, MathDL, January, 2008)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780817647803
  • Publisher: Birkhauser Verlag
  • Publication date: 1/11/2008
  • Series: Modern Birkhauser Classics Series
  • Edition description: Reprint of the 1997 ed.
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 1,062,614
  • Product dimensions: 0.65 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 6.14 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreward by Reuben Hersh.- Foreward by Robert Sokolowski.- Introduction by Gian-Carlo Rota.- Fine Hall in its Golden Age Remembrances of Princeton in the Early Fifties.- Light Shadows Yale in the Early Fifties.- Combinatorics, Representation Theory and Invariant Theory The Story of a Ménage à Trois.- The Barrier of Meaning.- Stan Ulam.- The Lost Café.- The Pernicious Influence of Mathematics Upon Philosophy.- Philosophy and Computer Science.- The Phenomenology of Mathematical Truth.- The Phenomenology of Mathematical Beauty.- The Phenomenology of Mathematical Proof.- Syntax, Semantics, and the Problem of the Identity of Mathematical Items.- The Barber of Seville or the Useless Precaution.- Kant and Husserl.- Fundierung as a Logical Concept.- The Primacy of Identity.- Three Senses of 'A is B' in Heidegger.- Ten Lessons I Wish I Had Been Taught.- Ten Lessons for the Survival of a Mathematics Department.- A Mathematician’s Gossip.- Book Reviews.- End Notes.- Epilogue by Fabrizion Palombi.- Index
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2009

    Fantastic book!

    This is a fantastic book that can be appreciated my mathematicians and non-mathematicians alike - gives you a peek into the world of mathematicians! The essays are opinionated, full of information and never dull! Loved it! The parts on philosophy were tough going but the tales of mathematicians can't be beat!

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