Frank Darmstadt, an editor at Chelsea House, is to be congratulated. It is Darmstadt who pursued the five-volume “Pioneers in Mathematics” series and arranged for the books to be written by a mathematician. Each book in the series is devoted to the lives and work of individual mathematicians. Here, the mathematicians are from the first fifty years of the twentieth century, a time when progress accelerated and the field was populated by characters more wonderful and charming, in their ways, than anything Dickens ever dreamed of. Consider the great Ramanujan (Rah-man-a-jun), a clerk from India who taught himself mathematics from a fifty-year-old text but did such elegant and beautiful things with what he learned that the great G. H. Hardy invited him to Cambridge and collaborated with him until Ramanujun’s tragic death. Or look at Paul Erdös (Air-dish), who published more than 1,500 professional papers and was the most prolific mathematician in history, but had no home for much of his life, tended to give his money away, and traveled constantly, in part to encourage promising students to pursue their interests in the field he loved so much. There are great stories here and, if they are not told as well as they might have been and if the math is not always very well explained, they remain a good place for interested students to begin. Part of the “Pioneers in Mathematics” series. Reviewer: Michael Chabin
- Amie Rose Rotruck
When they first begin to study mathematics, few students think about the origins of the principles they are learning. However, there is a rich history of the development of math spanning thousands of years. In this title from the "Pioneers in Mathematics" series, Bradley examines the major contributors to mathematics that lived between 1300 and 1800 AD, including John Napier, Blaise Pascal, Sir Isaac Newton, and Leohnhard Euler. Women and minorities are not often well represented in the math books, but Bradely makes a point to include Maria Agnesi, an Italian woman, and Benjamin Banneker, a freed slave whose mathematical theories were published in the late eighteenth century in the United States. Every mathematician mentioned has their own chapter, which includes a description of their lives and a thorough but easily digested explanation of the mathematical principles they developed. In addition to diagrams illustrating the mathematics when required, there are numerous pictures to offer a more thorough look at the lives of these mathematicians. An excellent resource to bring life to math, as well as a useful tool when researching any of the mathematicians.
- Sarah Flowers
This five-volume set explores the lives and contributions of fifty people who made major developments in mathematics, from ancient times to the present. The second volume, The Age of Geniuis, covers the years from 1300 to 1800 and includes giants of the field such as Newton, Leibniz, Pascal, and Fermat. All volumes include women and non-Westerners, giving the series a broad coverage of the history of mathematics worldwide. In addition, the chosen mathematicians well illustrate the relationship of mathematics to other sciences, especially astronomy, physics, and computer science. Some knowledge of algebra and geometry is helpful in reading the details of each mathematician's contributions, but illustrations and diagrams abound to assist in comprehension. Glossaries, lists of further reading, and pronunciation guides add to the usefulness of the volumes. Other series entries include The The Age of Geniuis: 1300-1800, The Foundations of Mathematics: 1800-1900, Modern Mathematics: 1900-1950, and Mathematics Frontiers: 1950 to the Present.