Men of Mathematics

Men of Mathematics

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From one of the greatest minds in contemporary mathematics, Professor E.T. Bell, comes a witty, accessible, and fascinating look at the beautiful craft and enthralling history of mathematics.

Men of Mathematics provides a rich account of major mathematical milestones, from the geometry of the Greeks through Newton’s calculus, and on to the laws of probability, symbolic logic, and the fourth dimension. Bell breaks down this majestic history of ideas into a series of engrossing biographies of the great mathematicians who made progress possible—and who also led intriguing, complicated, and often surprisingly entertaining lives.

Never pedantic or dense, Bell writes with clarity and simplicity to distill great mathematical concepts into their most understandable forms for the curious everyday reader. Anyone with an interest in math may learn from these rich lessons, an advanced degree or extensive research is never necessary.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 608 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780671628185 | 
  • October 1986
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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

This section is headed Introduction rather than Preface (which it really is) in the hope of decoying habitual preface-skippers into reading -- for their own comfort -- at least the following paragraphs down to the first row of stars before going on to meet some of the great mathematicians. I should like to emphasize first that this book is not intended, in any sense, to be a history of mathematics, or any section of such a history.

The lives of mathematicians presented here are addressed to the general reader and to others who may wish to see what sort of human beings the men were... see more

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