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The Lives and Works of 50 Famous Mathematicians
An entertaining history of mathematics as chronicled through fifty short biographies.
Mathematics today is the fruit of centuries of brilliant insights by men and women whose personalities and life experiences were often as extraordinary as their mathematical achievements. This entertaining history of mathematics chronicles those achievements through fifty short biographies that bring these great thinkers to life while making their contributions understandable to readers with little math background.
Among the fascinating characters profiled are Isaac Newton (1642-1727), the founder of classical physics and infinitesimal calculus--he frequently quarreled with fellow scientists and was obsessed by alchemy and arcane Bible interpretation; Sophie Germain (1776 - 1831), who studied secretly at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, using the name of a previously enrolled male student--she is remembered for her work on Fermat's Last Theorem and on elasticity theory; Emmy Noether (1882 - 1935), whom Albert Einstein described as the most important woman in the history of mathematics--she made important contributions to abstract algebra and in physics she clarified the connection between conservation laws and symmetry; and Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920), who came from humble origins in India and had almost no formal training, yet made substantial contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions.
The unusual behavior and life circumstances of these and many other intriguing personalities make for fascinating reading and a highly enjoyable introduction to mathematics.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
""A fascinating tour of the history of mathematics, provided by snapshots of the lives of ingenious mathematicians who guided humanity on a vast intellectual journey. From Thales to Brahmagupta, Ramanujan, Mandelbrot, and Mirzakhani, we stand in awe of their perseverance and brilliance." --Clifford A. Pickover, author of The Math Book and Archimedes to Hawking "Math Makers fills a gap that has been left in the literature since the publication of E. T. Bell's classic, Men of Mathematics, over eighty years ago. In addition to profiling the ancients and well-known founders of the field, Posamentier and Spreitzer also include more-contemporary mathematicians, six of whom are women. The authors not only provide enough personal details in each case to pique the reader's interest and remind us that mathematics is a human endeavor but also cleverly introduce an illustrative, serious sample of mathematics. A book that is both informative and entertaining--fun to dip into and handy as a reference." --Colin Pask, Professor Emeritus of mathematics, University of New South Wales, and author of Magnificent Principia "Readers will be captivated by the fifty mathematical figures profiled in Math Makers--especially by the six women discussed. In past centuries, women struggled to obtain permission to study math, but then delivered outstanding contributions to the field. Through these biographies, Alfred S. Posamentier and Christian Spreitzer present complex mathematical accomplishments, revealing the rich world of mathematics." --Gerhard Ackermann, PhD, professor and former president, Beuth University of Applied Sciences, Berlin "Most of us take mathematics for granted. We learn trigonometry and algebra in school, but our everyday use of mathematics permits us to ignore how it originated and by whom it was developed. Through fifty biographies, this book gives us a greater perspective on where our formulas come from, and it reveals the convoluted ways they were derived. Occasionally, theories and formulas are discovered by rare insight and brilliance, but most of the time they are built on prior work in the field. In Math Makers, we learn about those mathematicians whose efforts and achievements have allowed us to advance." --Ira Esformes, MD, former chief of Orthopedics and former chairman of the Department of Surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center, Pascack Valley Hospital "Posamentier and Spreitzer have thrown a party to which they have invited us--the readers--and fifty of the most intriguing and talented men and women in the history of mathematics. The authors introduce us to each guest, telling us who they are and what they have accomplished. Like at any good soiree, we have a grand time, we cherish every moment spent with these fascinating individuals, and we look forward to seeing these old and new friends again." --David S. Richeson, professor of mathematics at Dickinson College and author of Tales of Impossibility "Math Makers dispels the stereotypical image of mathematicians as introverted 'geeks.' These sketches of some of the greatest intellects of all time help to both humanize them as individuals and place their accomplishments into a historical perspective. In addition to providing fascinating details about these experts, the authors explain their subjects' contributions to the discipline in a manner clearly understandable to readers with limited mathematical background. This book will appeal to those who enjoy historical biographies as well as to those intrigued by the field of mathematics." --Stephen J. Margulis, MD, FACP