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Ioan James introduces and profiles sixty mathematicians from the era when mathematics was freed from its classical origins to develop into its modern form. The subjects, all born between 1700 and 1910, come from a wide range of countries, and all made important contributions to mathematics, through their ideas, their teaching, and their influence. James emphasizes their varied life stories, not the details of their mathematical achievements. The book is organized chronologically into ten chapters, each of which contains biographical sketches of six mathematicians. The men and women James has chosen to portray are representative of the history of mathematics, such that their stories, when read in sequence, convey in human terms something of the way in which mathematics developed. Ioan James is a professor at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford. He is the author of Topological Topics (Cambridge, 1983), Fibrewise Topology (Cambridge, 1989), Introduction to Uniform Spaces (Cambridge, 1990), Topological and Uniform Spaces (Springer-Verlag New York, 1999), and co-author with Michael C. Crabb of Fibrewise Homotopy Theory (Springer-Verlag New York, 1998). James is the former editor of the London Mathematical Society Lecture Note Series and volume editor of numerous books. He is the organizer of the Oxford Series of Topology symposia and other conferences, and co-chairman of the Task Force for Mathematical Sciences of Campaign for Oxford.
Preface; 1. From Euler to Legendre; 2. From Fourier to Cauchy; 3. From Abel to Grassmann; 4. From Kummer to Cayley; 5. From Hermite to Lie; 6. From Cantor to Hilbert; 7. From Moore to Takagi; 8. From Hardy to Lefschetz; 9. From Birkhoff to Alexander; 10. From Banach to von Neumann; Epilogue; Further reading.
Posted April 6, 2003
Don't miss these captivating tales of the life and the times of mathematicians starting from the period of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia, and right up to recent times, at least up to and including including the Cold War. Even if you aren't in math, I think you are likely to be caught up in the drama of the various lives, times, and events. The writing is fast paced and engaging, much like that of Constance Reid's books: 'Hilbert', or 'Courant'... Over the tumultous historical periods, it has been said that mathematicians have been more likely than others to have been uprooted in the upheavals of history, perhaps because they are concerned with theories and ideas that are more universal. But their lives are still much affected by the times and the events of history: The French Revolution(Galois, Poisson, Fourier...), the Napolionic Wars(Cauchy, Abel...), the period of Bismarck and Nationalism in Europe(Weierstrass, Cantor, Lie...), the Russian Revolution(Alexander, Kolmogorov...), the two World Wars, and the crisis period between WWI and WWII(Banach, Hadamard, Courant, Hilbert...), and the Cold War(von Neumann, Wiener...). The pictures on the cover gives you a sample of the profiles in the book: G. Polya, K. Weierstrass, A. N. Kolmogorov, N. Wiener, S. Kovalevskaya, and S.-D. Poisson. Even if you won't get to meet them in person (I was a guest at George Polya's ninetieth birthday!), this book is the next best thing.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.