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Foreword C. P. Snow; Preface; A Mathematician's Apology: chapters 1–29; Note.
Posted March 8, 2009
The Apology is written by G.H. Hardy,with a preface by C.P. Snow. It is Snow's preface that makes this slim book work.
The preface is an intensely interesting and sympathetic character study of Hardy,who was one of the world's top five mathematicians.Were it not for the preface the book would have very little impact
Hardy has been one of my heroes since my college days,primarily because of the part he played in bringing to the world's attention the work of
an Indian mathematician name Ramanujan.This man was a clerical worker in India's British-run civil service.He was mathematically illiterate and yet possessed of remarkable intuitive genius in certain mathematical fields of a very high order. So high that there are still many of his theorems about infinite series which have not been rigorously proved to this day.
But sad to say Hardy's attempt to explain what makes good math so fascinating a life's work doesn't work,at least for me It is wooden,
dense where it should be clear,and with a whiff of that peculiarly
English upper class sense of a superior way of thinking about things.
Of course he did have a superior way of thinking about math and he never lets the reader forget itfor a moment.
Posted October 23, 2005
I believe that the two biggest compliments a math author can get are first to have Graham Greene write: ¿the best account of what it was like to be a creative artist¿. And the second is to see his/her book open with an engaging Foreword by C. P. Snow. This little book by G.H. Hardy is deserving of both! And it is for good reasons that it has been reprinted many times over! More than sixty-six years ago G. H. Hardy so eloquently apologized to the World for mathematics. You might say that no apology is needed, but many of my calculus students beg to disagree! Back then in the shadow of one World War, and in the approach to a second, Hardy, a pacifist, and the Platonic puritan he was clearly had in mind pure mathematics. -- (And at the time, some parts of applied math had been used in an unpopular war.) Now reflecting on this many years later, I couldn¿t help wonder if in the mean time the winds could have changed wondering whether perhaps now a math author who trespasses into engineering topics and other applied domains might not be expected to apologize --- at least if he/she has in mind math students as his primary audience. Aside from this, Hardy¿s lovely little book has over the years become a paradigm for math apologies, and any apologetic mathematician ought to at least mention Hardy in her credits. Review by Palle Jorgensen, October 2005.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 23, 2010
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