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[ Mathematics: From the Birth of Numbers[ MATHEMATICS: FROM THE BIRTH OF NUMBERS ] By Gullberg, Jan ( Author )Mar-17-1997 Hardcover Hardcover – 17 Mar 1997


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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (17 Mar. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004BLZ5PO
  • Product Dimensions: 26.2 x 18.5 x 6.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 98,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Mathematics This wide-ranging survey looks at the history of mathematics from the invention of numbers and language, through the realms of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus, to mathematical logic, set theory, topology, fractals and probability, and onwards to differential equations. Full description

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Scholars generally agree that our ability to count, and our vocabulary of counting, arose to meet practical needs and developed over many thousand years. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 23 Mar. 2005
Format: Paperback
Jan Gullberg describes his impulse to write this book as deriving from conversations with his son, who was studying engineering. Gullberg himself was not a mathematician, but rather a surgeon of international standing; mathematics became a hobby of his, an intellectual pursuit with practical applications that he could share with his son. This thick book (nearly 1100 pages) has over a thousand drawings, which were prepared by Gullberg's son, Par.
This book can be classified in many ways. In one sense, it is a giant book of mathematics trivia - almost every major and minor aspect of mathematics is represented here in some fashion, from the explanation of cardinal and ordinal numbers to the analytic geometry, calculus, probability and statistics, and symbolic logic. These are arranged in a fairly standard progression, one that most people who have studied mathematics in school will recognise, at least up to the point that they studied.
Another classification of the book can be that of a mathematics encyclopedia. The table of contents, supplemented with the name index and the subject index in the back of the book, makes this a ready reference for short descriptions.
There are fun pieces here - for example, Gullberg derives approximate values for pi in two different scriptural texts (a passage from Kings and a passage from Nehemiah); there are mathematical jokes (yes, there are such things) and puzzles, some of which have only been recently solved (Fermat's last theorem, for example). There are historical pieces and purely mathematical pieces here, and in general the reader will learn about mathematics even when one doesn't understand fully the information being presented.
This is the one drawback of the book - it is not a mathematics textbook.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Sept. 1999
Format: Paperback
This really is a classic, the most enjoyable overview of mathematics in print. The writing has both texture and clarity and the author clearly loves mathematics. Aside from its subject, it's quite probably a literary masterpiece.
Chapters can be read pretty much separately and in any order. Apart from using it to review and improve my math, I find it of fantastic assistance as a reference when reading technically dense material.
My only fault with this book are the sections on calculus and integration, which are a bit rushed, but this is minor compared to the overall quality of the of the text. The sections on the history and developments of mathematics are worth the price of the book alone. It's expensive, but beautifully bound and printed (the author did his own typesetting); you will been reading this book years from the day you buy it, unlike so many popular math paperbacks.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 April 1998
Format: Paperback
As an aspiring mathematician, I use a great deal of math from simple algebra through calculus and beyond. This book looked so great, it's all I asked for for Christmas. I was not disappointed. It is a comprehensive book covering many essential math concepts; algebraic techniques, graphing, trig, calculus, linear algebra, probability and much, much more.

The author has found a cohesive way to bring all these different, but interrelated subdisciplines of math together for a fantastic, easy to use math companion.

Great gift idea (once you've picked up a copy for yourself)! Useful to high school students. I wish this had been on my bookshelf when I was in high school. A must have! Thank you, Jan Gullberg!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
A tremendous book. I've actually read it from cover to cover, but it is perfect for dipping in to casually. Flip this masterpiece open to any page and there's great maths - well explained and informative throughout. Also suitable as a reference tool for any level of maths - certianly into the second year of a degree.
If you have an interest in maths, buy this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Mar. 1998
Format: Paperback
When Martin Gardner descrubes a book as "awesome" I am impressed. Now that I have my own copy I find it difficult to find words to adequately describe this book. Of the many books on the history and theory of mathematics that I either own or have read this one stands out above the rest. Jan Gullberg has turned mathematical writing into an artform. A general text, such as this, can obviously not treat every subject in detail, and if you have a particular interest you will still need other sources, but don't let that lead you to believe the treatment here is superficial. This book, the result of ten years work, is indeed awesome. Anyone with an existing passion for mathematics will find much here that is already familiar, but presented in a refreshing, and highly readable, fashion. Anyone new to the subject could not ask for a better introduction. I have many other "favourite" mathematical authors and titles, but if I had to choose one it would definitely be this one. It is superb.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 July 1999
Format: Paperback
This is an outstanding compendium. Not influenced by the aberrations of "Modern Math" it is enjoyable, comprehensive and easy to understand. The author has done a tremendous service for all of us who love mathematics and to entice many mathematicians to come.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Aug. 1997
Format: Paperback
If you had to own one mathematics textbook, for popular or as an academic review, this is it. That its written by a physician is remarkable. If you're into electronics, its wit, content and directness is as good as Horowitz and Hill's "Art of Electronics". Its discourses on the history of mathematics extending to antiquity, used as adjuncts to deepen one's appreciation of math, is a feature notable for the best books on any subject. It clearly will be legendary. Alas, the publishers should use better materials and acid free paper. Gullberg's book will live long and prosper.
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