Synopses & Reviews
The Mathematician's Brain poses a provocative question about the world's most brilliant yet eccentric mathematical minds: were they brilliant because of their eccentricities or in spite of them? In this thought-provoking and entertaining book, David Ruelle, the well-known mathematical physicist who helped create chaos theory, gives us a rare insider's account of the celebrated mathematicians he has known-their quirks, oddities, personal tragedies, bad behavior, descents into madness, tragic ends, and the sublime, inexpressible beauty of their most breathtaking mathematical discoveries.
Consider the case of British mathematician Alan Turing. Credited with cracking the German Enigma code during World War II and conceiving of the modern computer, he was convicted of "gross indecency" for a homosexual affair and died in 1954 after eating a cyanide-laced apple--his death was ruled a suicide, though rumors of assassination still linger. Ruelle holds nothing back in his revealing and deeply personal reflections on Turing and other fellow mathematicians, including Alexander Grothendieck, René Thom, Bernhard Riemann, and Felix Klein. But this book is more than a mathematical tell-all. Each chapter examines an important mathematical idea and the visionary minds behind it. Ruelle meaningfully explores the philosophical issues raised by each, offering insights into the truly unique and creative ways mathematicians think and showing how the mathematical setting is most favorable for asking philosophical questions about meaning, beauty, and the nature of reality.
The Mathematician's Brain takes you inside the world--and heads--of mathematicians. It's a journey you won't soon forget.
Review
"Fascinating and quite eclectic. Ruelle has a pragmatic approach to discussing philosophical and psychological questions. He is equally pragmatic with regard to ethical and political issues involved in the professional world of the mathematician. As Ruelle repeatedly says, mathematics is a human activity." William Messing, University of Minnesota
Review
"The mathematician David Ruelle is well known for his work on nonlinear dynamics and turbulence, and his new book, The Mathematician's Brain, is a book about mathematics and what it all means....The book's value lies in Mr. Ruelle's description of the curious inner life of mathematicians." David Berlinski, New York Sun
Synopsis
The Mathematician's Brain poses a provocative question about the world's most brilliant yet eccentric mathematical minds: were they brilliant because of their eccentricities or in spite of them? In this thought-provoking and entertaining book, David Ruelle, the well-known mathematical physicist who helped create chaos theory, gives us a rare insider's account of the celebrated mathematicians he has known-their quirks, oddities, personal tragedies, bad behavior, descents into madness, tragic ends, and the sublime, inexpressible beauty of their most breathtaking mathematical discoveries.
Consider the case of British mathematician Alan Turing. Credited with cracking the German Enigma code during World War II and conceiving of the modern computer, he was convicted of gross indecency for a homosexual affair and died in 1954 after eating a cyanide-laced apple; his death was ruled a suicide, though rumors of assassination still linger. Ruelle holds nothing back in his revealing and deeply personal reflections on Turing and other fellow mathematicians, including Alexander Grothendieck, René Thom, Bernhard Riemann, and Felix Klein. But this book is more than a mathematical tell-all. Each chapter examines an important mathematical idea and the visionary minds behind it. Ruelle meaningfully explores the philosophical issues raised by each, offering insights into the truly unique and creative ways mathematicians think and showing how the mathematical setting is most favorable for asking philosophical questions about meaning, beauty, and the nature of reality.
The Mathematician's Brain takes you inside the world, and heads, of mathematicians. It's a journey you won't soon forget.
Synopsis
The Mathematician's Brain poses a provocative question about the world's most brilliant yet eccentric mathematical minds: were they brilliant because of their eccentricities or in spite of them? In this thought-provoking and entertaining book, David Ruelle, the well-known mathematical physicist who helped create chaos theory, gives us a rare insider's account of the celebrated mathematicians he has known-their quirks, oddities, personal tragedies, bad behavior, descents into madness, tragic ends, and the sublime, inexpressible beauty of their most breathtaking mathematical discoveries.
Consider the case of British mathematician Alan Turing. Credited with cracking the German Enigma code during World War II and conceiving of the modern computer, he was convicted of "gross indecency" for a homosexual affair and died in 1954 after eating a cyanide-laced apple--his death was ruled a suicide, though rumors of assassination still linger. Ruelle holds nothing back in his revealing and deeply personal reflections on Turing and other fellow mathematicians, including Alexander Grothendieck, René Thom, Bernhard Riemann, and Felix Klein. But this book is more than a mathematical tell-all. Each chapter examines an important mathematical idea and the visionary minds behind it. Ruelle meaningfully explores the philosophical issues raised by each, offering insights into the truly unique and creative ways mathematicians think and showing how the mathematical setting is most favorable for asking philosophical questions about meaning, beauty, and the nature of reality.
The Mathematician's Brain takes you inside the world--and heads--of mathematicians. It's a journey you won't soon forget.
Synopsis
"David Ruelle has written an entertaining and thoughtful book on human theorizing in that most abstract science, mathematics. Yet its content has ramifications that extend well into other thought processes."--Stephen Smale, Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago
"Fascinating and quite eclectic. Ruelle has a pragmatic approach to discussing philosophical and psychological questions. He is equally pragmatic with regard to ethical and political issues involved in the professional world of the mathematician. As Ruelle repeatedly says, mathematics is a human activity."--William Messing, University of Minnesota
About the Author
David Ruelle is professor emeritus of mathematical physics at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques in France and distinguished visiting professor of mathematics at Rutgers University. His books include Chance and Chaos (Princeton).
Table of Contents
Preface vii
Chapter 1: Scientific Thinking 1
Chapter 2: What Is Mathematics? 5
Chapter 3: The Erlangen Program 11
Chapter 4: Mathematics and Ideologies 17
Chapter 5: The Unity of Mathematics 23
Chapter 6: A Glimpse into Algebraic Geometry and Arithmetic 29
Chapter 7: A Trip to Nancy with Alexander Grothendieck 34
Chapter 8: Structures 41
Chapter 9: The Computer and the Brain 46
Chapter 10: Mathematical Texts 52
Chapter 11: Honors 57
Chapter 12: Infinity: The Smoke Screen of the Gods 63
Chapter 13: Foundations 68
Chapter 14: Structures and Concept Creation 73
Chapter 15: Turing's Apple 78
Chapter 16: Mathematical Invention: Psychology and Aesthetics 85
Chapter 17: The Circle Theorem and an Infinite-Dimensional Labyrinth 91
Chapter 18: Mistake! 97
Chapter 19: The Smile of Mona Lisa 103
Chapter 20: Tinkering and the Construction of Mathematical Theories 108
Chapter 21: The Strategy of Mathematical Invention 113
Chapter 22: Mathematical Physics and Emergent Behavior 119
Chapter 23: The Beauty of Mathematics 127
Notes 131
Index 157