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A History in Sum: 150 Years of Mathematics at Harvard (1825–1975) Hardcover – Nov 1 2013

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Product details

  • 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)
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Product description


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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Jorge B.
5.0 out of 5 starsInspiring Reading
December 6, 2013 - Published on
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5.0 out of 5 starsA very interesting read
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5.0 out of 5 starsThe author has successfully waived history and their mathematical insight ...
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Matt Joyce
5.0 out of 5 starsAn inspiring history of Harvard Math
December 1, 2013 - Published on
4 people found this helpful.
December 2, 2013 - Published on
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