From ancient Babylon to the last great unsolved problems, an acclaimed mathematician and popular science writer brings us his witty, engaging, and definitive history of mathematics
In his famous straightforward style, Ian Stewart explains each major development—from the first number systems to chaos theory—and considers how each affected society and changed everyday life forever. Maintaining a personal touch, he introduces all of the outstanding mathematicians of history, from the key Babylonians, Greeks, and Egyptians, via Newton and Descartes, to Fermat, Babbage, and Godel, and demystifies math's key concepts without recourse to complicated formulae. Written to provide a captivating historic narrative for the non-mathematician, this book is packed with fascinating nuggets and quirky asides, and contains plenty of illustrations and diagrams to illuminate and aid understanding of a subject many dread, but which has made the world what it is today.
"Cear and readable, [Taming the Infinite] is an essential title for math, science, and technology buffs and will be intriguing for all." —Library Journal
Have you ever thought of math as terrific fun? Stewart (mathematics, Univ. of Warwick, UK; Why Beauty Is Truth: The History of Symmetry) makes it that and more. His engaging writing style draws readers into the story of mathematics, giving it an arc and its players charismatic personalities, even when those "players" are notation systems. In each chapter, Stewart chronologically examines a particular area of mathematics. He gives accessible, real-world examples that are easy to visualize and often illustrate the impact of complicated mathematical concepts on our daily lives. From tally marks and numerals, to Euclid and Pythagoras, to imaginary numbers and chaos theory, to Gödel and Faraday, Stewart offers an insightful and clear history of mathematical developments. The diagrams and illustrations are comprehensible for lay readers yet not condescendingly simple. Throughout, Stewart examines the discoveries of great mathematicians and offers absorbing anecdotes about their lives in special callouts throughout the book. VERDICT Clear and readable, this is an essential title for math, science, and technology buffs and will be intriguing for all. It might even be of interest to teens! Highly recommended.—Candice Kail, Columbia Univ. Libs., New York
Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 1.00 (d)
Meet the Author
Ian Stewart is a world-renowned popularizer of mathematics, having won many awards for furthering public understanding of science, including the Royal Society's Michael Faraday Medal and the Gold Medal of the Institute for Mathematics. He is the author of more than 20 popular science and mathematics titles including Flatterland, Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities, and Why Beauty Is Truth. He is the mathematics consultant for New Scientist and a former columnist for Scientific American, has consulted for Encyclopaedia Britannica, and has collaborated with Terry Pratchett on the Science of Discworld titles.