"...a perfectly marvelous book about the Queen of Sciences, from which one will get a real feeling for what mathematicians do and who they are. The exposition is clear and full of wit and humor..." - The New Yorker (1983 National Book Award edition)
Mathematics has been a human activity for thousands of years. Yet only a few people from the vast population of users are professional mathematicians, who create, teach, foster, and apply it in a variety of situations. The authors of this book believe that it should be possible for these professional mathematicians to explain to non-professionals what they do, what they say they are doing, and why the world should support them at it. They also believe that mathematics should be taught to non-mathematics majors in such a way as to instill an appreciation of the power and beauty of mathematics. Many people from around the world have told the authors that they have done precisely that with the first edition and they have encouraged publication of this revised edition complete with exercises for helping students to demonstrate their understanding. This edition of the book should find a new generation of general readers and students who would like to know what mathematics is all about. It will prove invaluable as a course text for a general mathematics appreciation course, one in which the student can combine an appreciation for the esthetics with some satisfying and revealing applications.
The text is ideal for 1) a GE course for Liberal Arts students 2) a Capstone course for perspective teachers 3) a writing course for mathematics teachers. A wealth of customizable online course materials for the book can be obtained from Elena Anne Marchisotto (firstname.lastname@example.org) upon request.
These stories challenge many myths, including the notions that mathematics is a solitary pursuit and a "young man's game," the belief that mathematicians are emotionally different from other people, and even the idea that to be a great mathematician it helps to be a little bit crazy. Reuben Hersh and Vera John-Steiner tell stories of lives in math from their very beginnings through old age, including accounts of teaching and mentoring, friendships and rivalries, love affairs and marriages, and the experiences of women and minorities in a field that has traditionally been unfriendly to both. Included here are also stories of people for whom mathematics has been an immense solace during times of crisis, war, and even imprisonment--as well as of those rare individuals driven to insanity and even murder by an obsession with math.
This is a book for anyone who wants to understand why the most rational of human endeavors is at the same time one of the most emotional.
The list of topics in which Lax made fundamental and long-lasting contributions is remarkable: scattering theory, solitons, shock waves, and even classical analysis, to name a few. His work has been honored many times, including the Abel Prize in 2005. The book concludes with an account of his most important mathematical contributions, made accessible without heavy prerequisites.
Reuben Hersh has written extensively on mathematics. His book with Philip Davis, The Mathematical Experience, won the National Book Award in science. Hersh is emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of New Mexico.
Can practicing mathematicians, as such, contribute anything to the philosophy of math? Can or should philosophers of math, as such, say anything to practicing mathematicians?
Twenty or fifty years from now, what will be similar, and what will, or could, or should be altogether different: About the philosophy of math? About math education? About math research institutions? About data processing and scientific computing?
The essays also offer glimpses into Reuben’s fertile mind and his lasting influence on the mathematical community, as well as revealing the diverse roots, obstacles and philosophical dispositions that characterize the working lives of mathematicians.
With contributions from a veritable “who’s who” list of 20th century luminaries from mathematics and philosophy, as well as from Reuben himself, this volume will appeal to a wide variety of readers from curious undergraduates to prominent mathematicians.
This book contains six chapters and begins with a discussion of the basic principles and limitations of numerical integration. The succeeding chapters present the approximate integration rules and formulas over finite and infinite intervals. These topics are followed by a review of error analysis and estimation, as well as the application of functional analysis to numerical integration. A chapter describes the approximate integration in two or more dimensions. The final chapter looks into the goals and processes of automatic integration, with particular attention to the application of Tschebyscheff polynomials.
This book will be of great value to theoreticians and computer programmers.
Roi Wagner uniquely combines philosophical, historical, and cognitive studies to paint a fully rounded image of mathematics not as an absolute ideal but as a human endeavor that takes shape in specific social and institutional contexts. The book builds on ancient, medieval, and modern case studies to confront philosophical reconstructions and cutting-edge cognitive theories. It focuses on the contingent semiotic and interpretive dimensions of mathematical practice, rather than on mathematics' claim to universal or fundamental truths, in order to explore not only what mathematics is, but also what it could be. Along the way, Wagner challenges conventional views that mathematical signs represent fixed, ideal entities; that mathematical cognition is a rigid transfer of inferences between formal domains; and that mathematics’ exceptional consensus is due to the subject’s underlying reality.
The result is a revisionist account of mathematical philosophy that will interest mathematicians, philosophers, and historians of science alike.
Nonlogical qualities, William Byers shows, play an essential role in mathematics. Ambiguities, contradictions, and paradoxes can arise when ideas developed in different contexts come into contact. Uncertainties and conflicts do not impede but rather spur the development of mathematics. Creativity often means bringing apparently incompatible perspectives together as complementary aspects of a new, more subtle theory. The secret of mathematics is not to be found only in its logical structure.
The creative dimensions of mathematical work have great implications for our notions of mathematical and scientific truth, and How Mathematicians Think provides a novel approach to many fundamental questions. Is mathematics objectively true? Is it discovered or invented? And is there such a thing as a "final" scientific theory?
Ultimately, How Mathematicians Think shows that the nature of mathematical thinking can teach us a great deal about the human condition itself.
Describing a historically oriented, agent-based philosophy of mathematics, Ferreirós shows how the mathematical tradition evolved from Euclidean geometry to the real numbers and set-theoretic structures. He argues for the need to take into account a whole web of mathematical and other practices that are learned and linked by agents, and whose interplay acts as a constraint. Ferreirós demonstrates how advanced mathematics, far from being a priori, is based on hypotheses, in contrast to elementary math, which has strong cognitive and practical roots and therefore enjoys certainty.
Offering a wealth of philosophical and historical insights, Mathematical Knowledge and the Interplay of Practices challenges us to rethink some of our most basic assumptions about mathematics, its objectivity, and its relationship to culture and science.
Contributors to this volume:
David H. Bailey
Jonathan M. Borwein
Philip J. Davis
Micah T. Ross
Each of the first three parts—on number theory, calculus/analysis, and proof—begins with a survey of the respective subject and is followed in more depth by specialized themes. Among the specialized themes are: Fermat as the founder of modern number theory, Fermat’s Last Theorem from Fermat to Wiles, the history of the function concept, paradoxes, the principle of continuity, and an historical perspective on recent debates about proof.
The fourth part contains essays describing mathematics courses inspired by history. The essays deal with numbers as a source of ideas in teaching, with famous problems, and with the stories behind various "great" quotations. The last part gives an account of five mathematicians—Dedekind, Euler, Gauss, Weierstrass, and Hilbert—whose lives and work we hope readers will find inspiring.
Key features of the work include:
* A preface describing in some detail the author's ideas on teaching mathematics courses, in particular, the role of history in such courses;
* Explicit comments and suggestions for teachers on how history can affect the teaching of mathematics;
* A description of a course in the history of mathematics taught in an In-Service Master's Program for high school teachers;
* Inclusion of issues in the philosophy of mathematics;
* An extensive list of relevant references at the end of each chapter.
Excursions in the History of Mathematics was written with several goals in mind: to arouse mathematics teachers’ interest in the history of their subject; to encourage mathematics teachers with at least some knowledge of the history of mathematics to offer courses with a strong historical component; and to provide an historical perspective on a number of basic topics taught in mathematics courses.
Modern Challenges to Past Philosophy argues pondering past philosophy with modern problems in mind is worth the effort, even though earlier works are uninformed by modern science and lack some of tools of modern analysis. The great texts defamiliarize our world and offer solutions to crucial questions often forgotten as we fixate on current philosophical trends.
Modern Challenges is no appeal to a return to a golden past but a study designed to show how and why understanding earlier works of some of the most penetrating minds ever to ponder eternally valid questions can contribute to a renewal of our own culture.
Readership: Students and teachers of mathematics, science and philosophy. The greater part of the book can be read and enjoyed by anyone possessing a good high school mathematics background.
Polanyi’s method was not laid out in his published works, and his vocabulary tends to make his writings difficult to understand. By exposing the structure of his theory of tacit knowing, and by tracing the growth of his thinking, Jha shows how the various elements of his thought are integrated. Through examination of his philosophical roots in Kant and the complexity of his evolving thought, she counteracts the popular notion that Polanyi’s philosophy stands apart from the western philosophic tradition.
Jha’s deep analysis makes Polanyi’s shift of focus from science to philosophy more intelligible, his philosophy more approachable, and the causes he championed—such as the freedom of science and cultural freedom—more understandable. Applying his notion of tacit knowing in practical directions, Jha seeks to bring the study of Polanyi’s philosophy out of the specialists’ enclave and into such fields as ethics and clinical medicine.
The editors of this book felt the urge, first of all, to bring together the widest variety of authors from these different domains and, secondly, to show that this diversity does not exclude a sufficient number of common elements to be present. In the eyes of the editors, this book will be considered a success if it can convince its readers of the following: that it is warranted to dream of a realistic and full-fledged theory of mathematical practices, in the plural. If such a theory is possible, it would mean that a number of presently existing fierce oppositions between philosophers, sociologists, educators, and other parties involved, are in fact illusory.
Davis is Professor Emeritus of Applied Mathematics at Brown University and author of No Way: Essays on the Impossible.
Philip Davis is known for his work in numerical analysis and approximation theory, as well as his investigations in the history and philosophy of mathematics. Currently a Professor Emeritus from the Division of Applied Mathematics at Brown University, Davis is known for his books both in the areas of computational mathematics and approximation theory and for books exploring certain questions in the philosophy of mathematics and the role of mathematics in society.
This book will interest specialists in the philosophy, history, and sociology of mathematics, persons interested in mathematics education, students of science and society, and people interested in current developments in the social and cultural analysis of science and mathematics.