Synopses & Reviews
There is a remarkable permanence about mathematical ideas. Whereas other scientific disciplines regularly discard the old and outmoded, in mathematics new results build upon their predecessors without rendering them obsolete. The astronomical theories and medical practices of the Alexandrian Greeks, works of undisputed genius in their day, have long since become archaic curios. Yet Euclids proof of the Pythagorean theorem, set forth in 300 B.C., has lost none of its beauty or validity with the passage of time. A theorem, correctly proved within the rigors of logic, is a theorem forever. Journey Through Genius explores some of the most significant and enduring ideas in mathematics: the great theorems, discoveries of beauty and insight that stand today as monuments to the human intellect. Writing with extraordinary clarity, wit, and enthusiasm, Professor William Dunham takes us on a fascinating journey through the intricate reasoning of these masterworks and the often turbulent lives and times of their creators. Along with the essential mathematics, Professor Dunham uniquely captures the humanity of these great mathematicians. Youll meet Archimedes of Syracuse, who pushed mathematics to frontiers that would stand some 1,500 years. Unchallenged as the greatest mathematician of antiquity, Archimedes was the stereotypically "absent minded" mathematician, capable of forgetting to eat or bathe while at work on a problem. From the sixteenth century youll encounter Gerolamo Cardano, whose mathematical accomplishments provide a fascinating counterpoint to his extraordinary misadventures. In the next century, there appeared the competitive, bickering Bernoulli brothers, who explored the arcane world of infinite series when not engaged in contentious wrangling with one another. And from more modern times youll read of the paranoid genius of Georg Cantor, who had the ability and courage to make a frontal assault on that most challenging of mathematical ideasthe infinite. Journey Through Genius is a rare combination of the historical, biographical, and mathematical. Readers will find the history engaging and fast-paced, the mathematics presented in careful steps. Indeed, those who keep paper, pencil, and straightedge nearby will find themselves rewarded by a deeper understanding and appreciation of these powerful discoveries. Regardless of ones mathematical facility, all readers will come away from this exhilarating book with a keen sense of the majesty and power, the creativity and genius of these mathematical masterpieces.
Synopsis
Praise for William Dunham?s Journey Through Genius The Great Theorems of Mathematics "Dunham deftly guides the reader through the verbal and logical intricacies of major mathematical questions and proofs, conveying a splendid sense of how the greatest mathematicians from ancient to modern times presented their arguments." ?Ivars Peterson Author, The Mathematical Tourist Mathematics and Physics Editor, Science News
"It is mathematics presented as a series of works of art; a fascinating lingering over individual examples of ingenuity and insight. It is mathematics by lightning flash." ?Isaac Asimov
"It is a captivating collection of essays of major mathematical achievements brought to life by the personal and historical anecdotes which the author has skillfully woven into the text. This is a book which should find its place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in science and the scientists who create it." ?R. L. Graham, AT&T Bell Laboratories
"Come on a time-machine tour through 2,300 years in which Dunham drops in on some of the greatest mathematicians in history. Almost as if we chat over tea and crumpets, we get to know them and their ideas?ideas that ring with eternity and that offer glimpses into the often veiled beauty of mathematics and logic. And all the while we marvel, hoping that the tour will not stop." ?Jearl Walker, Physics Department, Cleveland State University Author of The Flying Circus of Physics
Synopsis
"Come on a time-machine tour through 2,300 years in which Dunham drops in on some of the greatest mathematicians in history. Almost as if we chat over tea and crumpets, we get to know them and their ideas?ideas that ring with eternity and that offer glimpses into the often veiled beauty of mathematics and logic. And all the while we marvel, hoping that the tour will not stop." ?Jearl Walker, Physics Department, Cleveland State University Author of The Flying Circus of Physics
About the Author
About the author WILLIAM DUNHAM is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. After receiving his PhD from the Ohio State University in 1974, he joined the mathematics faculty at Hanover College in Indiana. He has directed a summer seminar funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities on the topic of "The Great Theorems of Mathematics in Historical Context."
Table of Contents
Hippocrates' Quadrature of the Lune (ca. 440 B.C.).
Euclid's Proof of the Pythagorean Theorem (ca. 300 B.C.).
Euclid and the Infinitude of Primes (ca. 300 B.C.).
Archimedes' Determination of Circular Area (ca. 225 B.C.).
Heron's Formula for Triangular Area (ca. A.D. 75).
Cardano and the Solution of the Cubic (1545).
A Gem from Isaac Newton (Late 1660s).
The Bernoullis and the Harmonic Series (1689).
The Extraordinary Sums of Leonhard Euler (1734).
A Sampler of Euler's Number Theory (1736).
The Non-Denumerability of the Continuum (1874).
Cantor and the Transfinite Realm (1891).
Afterword.
Chapter Notes.
References.
Index.