Synopses & Reviews
For more than two thousand years, geometry has been equated with Euclids Elements, the worlds first mathematical treatise. The system of shapes and space it describes is at once so powerful and so natural that it has intrigued men and women for centuries, and continues to be taught in classrooms around the world. In The King of Infinite Space, David Berlinski pays homage to Euclid and the vision that he created, showing how Euclid has achieved a hold on our imagination for reasons that go beyond the details of his proofs. Euclid provided mathematicians with a way of life, a technique of proceeding from what must be assumed to what can be demonstrated. The circumstances under which Euclid composed the Elements remain largely unknown, and the details of his life have long since vanished. But through his masterpiece, Euclidand the mathematical tradition he establishedhave achieved immortality. Written with Berlinskis characteristic lyricism and verve, The King of Infinite Space offers a rich, accessible treatment of Euclid and his Elements.
Review
"In this brief, accessible foray, popular math/science writer Berlinski (Newton's Gift) breathes life into an ancient mathematician and the world of axioms and theorems he created a geometric world that became the basis for much of modern math, from analytic geometry to the idea of curved space-time. To Berlinski, Euclid's fourth-century B.C., 13-volume Elements is a manifestation of his 'intense demand for an idealized world.' In small, precise steps, Euclid spells out five axioms, or assumptions, about points, lines, and angles, and what it means when two things are 'equal' everything needed to describe shapes in space. Berlinski writes, 'In every generation, a few students have found themselves ravished by the Elements'; so too will even the most math-averse be enthralled by Berlinski's rich, vibrant language: Euclid's 'shady' fifth axiom, concerning parallel lines, is 'the little lunatic locked in a padded cell,' 'all mad glitter and glow'; equilateral triangles are 'squat brutes' that 'do nothing and go nowhere,' while isosceles triangles 'have the power to soar.' Berlinski's book succeeds not only as a history of geometry but also as an exploration of the power of ideas, masterfully replacing cold abstraction with humor and humanity. 13 b&w images. Agent: Susan Ginsburg, Writers House." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Review
The Wall Street Journaland#147;Reading this brief, lively work is like sitting with the author in a French cafand#233; with too many carafes of red wine and the smoke of hundreds of Gauloises swirling inside your head."
The New Yorker
and#147;Livelyand#133;.Berlinski guides us through an austere world of shapes and numbers with enthusiasm, assurance, and mischievous humor. He presents difficult ideas in straightforward terms, even when he moves into the strange and forbidding realm of non-Euclidean geometry.and#8221;
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
and#147;In this brief, accessible foray, popular math/science writer Berlinski breathes life into an ancient mathematician and the world of axioms and theorems he createdand#151;a geometric world that became the basis for much of modern math, from analytic geometry to the idea of curved space-timeand#133;. Even the most math-averse [will] be enthralled by Berlinskiand#8217;s rich, vibrant languageand#133;. Berlinskiand#8217;s book succeeds not only as a history of geometry but also as an exploration of the power of ideas, masterfully replacing cold abstraction with humor and humanity.and#8221;
Booklist, Starred Review
and#147;In writing at once geometrically precise and disarmingly conversational, Berlinski explores the imposing edifice that Euclid erected on a foundation of just five deceptively simple axiomsand#133;. An impressively concise distillation of the wizardry that transforms points, lines, and planes into sheer genius.and#8221;
Library Journal
and#147;Berlinski has produced a volume that will entertain and enlighten many of todayand#8217;s readersand#151;even those who do not treasure their memories of geometry class.and#8221;
The Weekly Standard
and#147;Written with David Berlinski's characteristic mix of hothouse prose and standup comedy.and#8221;
Nature
and#147;[A] pared and elegant homage to the peerless geometer [Euclid] and his magnum opus.and#8221;
New York Journal of Books
and#147;For anyone who cares about Euclid, geometry, the philosophy of mathematics and most especially, for those who appreciate fine writing.and#8221;
American Scientist
"The King of Infinite Space is not a crib for the lazy student who canand#8217;t be bothered to read all 13 books of the Elements. Neither is it a line-by-line exegesis for the diligent student who wants help with specific propositions in Euclid. Instead Berlinski offers a meditative monologue on Euclidand#8217;s place in the history of mathematics and the history of ideas. Berlinski speaks to you one-on-one, taking you into his confidence, never preachy or teachy."
Kirkus Reviews
and#147;A playful yet deep excursus through Euclidand#8217;s Elements, from veteran mathematician Berlinski. It is a pleasure to follow the author as he grasps the logistical tail of Euclidand#8217;s mathematics and follows it to this dayand#133;. It is a profound investigation, as math was synthesized and refined and Euclid broke out with his axiomatic systemand#133; as a way of seeing, a way of lifeand#133;. The authorand#8217;s storytelling is clear, crisp and emotive, and he brings Euclidand#8217;s little-known life alive.and#8221;
Synopsis
Geometry defines the world around us, helping us make sense of everything from architecture to military science to fashion. And for over two thousand years, geometry has been equated with Euclidand#8217;s
Elements, arguably the most influential book in the history of mathematics In
The King of Infinite Space, renowned mathematics writer David Berlinski provides a concise homage to this elusive mathematician and his staggering achievements. Berlinski shows that, for centuries, scientists and thinkers from Copernicus to Newton to Einstein have relied on Euclidand#8217;s axiomatic system, a method of proof still taught in classrooms around the world. Euclidand#8217;s use of elemental logicand#8212;and the mathematical statements he and others built from itand#8212;have dramatically expanded the frontiers of human knowledge.
The King of Infinite Space presents a rich, accessible treatment of Euclid and his beautifully simple geometric system, which continues to shape the way we see the world.
About the Author
David Berlinski holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University and has taught mathematics and philosophy at universities in the United States and in France. He is the bestselling author of such books as A Tour of the Calculus, The Advent of the Algorithm, and Newtons Gift. A senior fellow at the Discovery Institute in Seattle and a former fellow at the Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques, Berlinski writes frequently for Commentary, among other journals.