From the acclaimed author of A Tour of the Calculus and The Advent of the Algorithm, here is a riveting look at mathematics that reveals a hidden world in some of its most fundamental concepts.
In his latest foray into mathematics, David Berlinski takes on the simplest questions that can be asked: What is a number? How do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division actually work? What are geometry and logic? As he delves into these subjects, he discovers and lucidly describes the beauty and complexity behind their seemingly simple exteriors, making clear how and why these mercurial, often slippery concepts are essential to who we are.
Filled with illuminating historical anecdotes and asides on some of the most fascinating mathematicians through the ages, One, Two, Three is a captivating exploration of the foundation of mathematics: how it originated, who thought of it, and why it matters.
©2011 David Berlinski (P)2011 Random House
“[A] tour de force by a mathematician who wants the intellectually curious and logically minded . . . to understand the foundations and beauty of one of the major branches of mathematics.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“With wit and philosophy, with the clash of symbols and history, Berlinski displays the inner soul of simple arithmetic.” (Philip J. Davis, professor emeritus of applied mathematics, Brown University)
I gave up on this book after the sixth chapter. The subject seemed interesting to me, and the book's description intrigued me -- but I was sorely disappointed. Berlinksi is not a good story teller. His narrative is often disjointed, and he tries too hard to be clever. Much of the discussion seemed too obvious to be interesting, whereas parts were just confusing. Overall, a frustrating experience.
I am a layman interested in math and science, and I expected this book to dig down into some of the philosophical roots. Instead, I found that it treated subjects in a series of brief vignettes, with little in the way of interesting or exciting concepts. It really did not stay with any particular subject very long. I did not find the brain teasers I was hoping for.
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