Torin/Darren WhoEver (wolfieboy) wrote,
Torin/Darren WhoEver

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The Nature and Growth of Modern Mathematics

I can't really seem to articulate the processing that's going on with me right now. If I do find a way to do so and I find it's appropriate for the journal, I'll put it here.

In the meantime, I wanted to mention a rather magnificently sexy book that I picked up today, The Nature and Growth of Modern Mathematics by Edna E. Kramer, 1970 edition. It looks to be mucho fun and a great distraction. Not many books seem to give a good, generalized coverage of an entire field and most of those that do are written at a very light level as if afraid to frighten away possible readers. This book is definitely not that. It had some depth and a delectable breadth. From the back cover:
Edna Kramer has accomplished what few would try: a history and exegesis of the major ideas of mathematics from pre-Sumerian times to the 1960's, even offering a few predictions of things to come. It is clear that at every step of the way she has been careful in her research and has interviewed (and had her work reviewed by) leading figures in the field. What is most impressive about this 'cyclopedia' is the remarkable lucidity of her expression and her attack. Instead of resorting to pure chronology, she acquaints the reader in every chapter with contemporary developments related to the earlier innovation. […]
&mdash Kirkus
For those of you not coming over the house where I can inflict showing you this book, here's the Table of Contents. I had much glee as I was looking at this:
  1. From Babylonian Beginnings to Digital Computers
  2. Mathematical Method and Main Streams are Launched
  3. Mathematical Reasoning from Eudoxus to Lobachevsky
  4. Algebra from Hypathia to Hamilton
  5. Equations, Human and Inhuman
  6. A Universal Language
  7. Forefather of Modern Mathematics and their Legacy
  8. A Calculus for Heaven and Earth
  9. Determinism and its Creators
  10. The Elements of Strategy in War and Peace
  11. Probabilistic Models, Great Expectations, and Randomized Strategies
  12. General Games and Statistical Decision Theory
  13. From Dice to Quantum Theory and Quality Control
  14. Realm of Random Variables
  15. Demons, Energy, Maxwell, and Gibbs
  16. Sweet Manuscript of Youth
  17. The Unification of Geometry
  18. A Special Group and its Application
  19. Geometry for Universe-Builders
  20. Post-Relativity Geometry
  21. East meets West in the Higher Arithmatic
  22. The Reformation of Analysis
  23. Royal Roads to Function Analysis
  24. Infinite Hierarchy
  25. Angelic Geometry
  26. The Leonardos of Modern Mathematics
  27. Twentieth Century Vistas — Analysis
  28. Twentieth Century Vistas — Algebra
  29. Twentieth Century Vistas — Logic and Foundations
  30. Retrospect and Prospect
Suggestions for Further Reading
I was almost tempted to not get this book since it didn't cover anything past the 1960's. A lot has been done in mathematics since then. But what are the chances that such a book will be written that covers both what this books does and covers the the intervening years? At $12.95, it was a steal. I'm looking forward to reading this. It even overshadows picking up Irresistible Forces which is why I was originally at the bookstore. I ordered it last week but it didn't come in until Tuesday and I haven't had a chance to go pick it up until now. It has the novella, "Winterfair Gifts" by Lois McMaster Bujold featured in it.
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