- Hardcover: 280 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press (Nov. 1 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 067472500X
- ISBN-13: 978-0674725003
- Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2 x 23.5 cm
- Shipping Weight: 862 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #55,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A History in Sum: 150 Years of Mathematics at Harvard (1825–1975) Hardcover – Nov 1 2013
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This book tells the tale of how mathematics developed at Harvard--and by extension in the United States--since early days. It is filled with fascinating stories about some of the legendary names of modern mathematics. Both fans of mathematics and readers curious about the history of Harvard will enjoy it. (Edward Witten, Professor of Physics, Institute for Advanced Study)
<i>A History in Sum</i> is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful subject, one that illuminates mathematics through the lens of some of its most remarkable practitioners. The authors' love of mathematics shines through every chapter, as they use accessible and spirited language to describe a wealth of heady insights and the all-too-human stories of the minds that discovered them. There is perhaps no better book for immersion into the curious and compelling history of mathematical thought. (Brian Greene, Professor of Mathematics & Physics, Columbia University)
The book is written in a leisurely style, the scope is remarkably broad, and the topics covered are explained astonishingly well. Once I started the book, I simply couldn't put it down and I was ecstatic to easily understand important mathematics far from my own research interests. (Joel Smoller, Professor of Mathematics, University of Michigan)
<i>A History in Sum</i> contains a wealth of good stories, stories that go to the heart of the development of mathematics in this country. The authors succeed in humanizing and enlivening what might otherwise be a dry treatment of the subject. (Ron Irving, Professor of Mathematics, University of Washington)
<b>Nadis</b> and <b>Yau</b> are very successful at bringing some of the major figures in American mathematics to life. <i>A History in Sum</i> is a genuine and valuable addition to the world of mathematical biography. (Paul Lockhart, author of Measurement)
A triumph! I know of no other book like <i>A History in Sum</i>. <b>Nadis</b> and <b>Yau</b> offer a delightfully lucid introduction to the dazzling and heroic ideas of twentieth-century mathematics--and the colorful personalities and stories behind them. (Steven Strogatz, author of The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity)
The development of American mathematics, and American education more generally, cannot be told without an account of Harvard University…Though a department history seems like a parochial exercise, Harvard’s mathematics department’s history is much bigger and well worth the read. (J. McCleary Choice 2014-05-01)
[An] interesting history of mathematics at Harvard…The book starts from the mid-19th century, when mathematics came into being as an area of study at Harvard University. It reveals a myriad of personalities who have contributed to its prestige as a centre of mathematical research. It portrays life at Harvard from around 1825 to times of the great depression and the years following the 2nd World War. More importantly, it provides meaningful insight into all sorts of mathematical topics. (Peter Ruane Mathematical Association of America Reviews 2013-12-11)
The remarkable result is an account, at a consistently clear, non-specialist level, of a wide swath of modern mathematics. (Albert C. Lewis Mathematical Reviews (starred review) 2014-06-01)
[The authors] treat mathematics of ever-increasing theoretical difficulty with hands that manage deftly…to reveal the spirit, the excitement, and the dynamics of the mathematical endeavor at the cutting edge of research. (Karen Hunger Parshall Canadian Journal of History 2014-10-01)
About the Author
Steve Nadis is a freelance science writer living in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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and Harvard mathematics is both a part of the cause and outcome of this.
Why is Harvard Harvard? What is so special or important about Harvard mathematics?
Though these are obvious, important and interesting questions,
a complete answer from the first-hand experience is now given for the first time in this new book
``A history in Sum" by Steve Nadis and Shing-Tung Yau.
They recount how a lowly mathematics department became one of the world leaders,
telling this inspiring story through the lives and works of people who called Harvard home.
Unlike a usual history book, this book contains real mathematics.
Though the authors avoid equations and mathematics symbols,
they do not shy away from real mathematical ideas.
They wrote this with the conviction that ``good mathematicians (as well as good scientists in general) really need to
understand their origins.
By looking at the contributions of the great men and women from the past, we can trace a path showing how
the important ideas in math evolved. And by looking at that path, we may gain helpful clues regarding avenues
that are likely to be fruitful in the years ahead."
Clearly, this is a valuable book for mathematicians. But it is also a very interesting book
for the general reader, since mathematicians are people too, and some Harvard mathematical people
had lived uniquely interesting lives.
mathematics students who want to have a glimpse of some major topics
and players in modern mathematics and for mathematicians who want to have an informal, nontechnical
descriptions of topics outside their specialities, this is also an informative
and accessible book. The authors ``aimed for something far broader than merely recounting the most notable
success to have emerged from this department". Indeed, they tried to provide ``a guide to a broad swath of modern
mathematics, explaining concepts to nonspecialists that even mathematics students are not normally introduced to until
graduate-level courses. Although lay readers will not be able to master these advanced subjects from
our comparatively brief accounts, they can at least get a flavor of the work and perhaps get
a gist of that it's about."
Reading this book will not only allow you a glimpse of an important section of modern mathematics and
lives of the active participants, it will also make you understand why Harvard is Harvard!