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Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 22 Aug 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (22 Aug. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192853619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192853615
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1 x 10.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Review

a marvellously lucid guide to the beauty and mystery of numbers (Gilbert Adair)

About the Author

Timothy Gowers is Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University and was a recipient of a Fields Medal for Mathematics in 1998, awarded for 'the most daring, profound and stimulating research done by young mathematicians'.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The world of mathematics elicits many different emotions, from fear to reverence, from apprehension to fascination. On a surface this may seem surprising, since mathematics is supposed to deal rational thought, and should be as removed from emotional considerations as it gets. And yet, it is precisely this dispassionate rationality that makes those unaccustomed to mathematical thinking recoil, and those with a mathematical bend of mind rub their hands in glee. For the truth is, mathematical thought relies heavily on emotions, and mathematicians are fascinated with beauty and elegance of mathematical creations.

In the book "Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction" the author Timothy Gowers tries to convey some of this beauty. This is a very readable and intelligent short introduction, and probably the best short introduction to mathematics out there. It takes reader through some basic mathematical problems, and showcases the methods and procedures that mathematicians use in their work. If you are math-phobic, you will not have to deal with any complicated mathematical equations, and all of the problems and proofs that are offered in the book are straightforward and intuitive, and require a very minimal level of mathematical knowledge. The fact that the book attempts to "do" mathematics, as opposed to just tell about it, is one of its more rewarding aspects. It makes this an intelligent read, and rewarding no matter whether you are a complete mathematical "outsider" or someone with an advanced degree in a math-intensive field.
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Format: Paperback
Professor Gowers explains the key concepts of mathematics in this accessible and well-constructed book. Written for a general audience (although some basic scientific knowledge is an advantage), this book avoids the popularisation of mathematics, but instead focuses instead on the central ideas of abstraction and axiomisation which underpin all of modern mathematics.
After an introductory chapter on mathematical models in the sciences, Professor Gowers covers topics including numbers, limits, dimension and approximation in six short chapters. A final chapter gives thought-provoking answers to questions such as what are the connections between mathematics and music, and what is beauty in mathematics. The format inevitably means that some topics are omitted due to lack of space - there is little background on the history of mathematics for example - but that does not detract from the central theme of the book.
Professor Gowers' enthusiasm for his subject comes across on every page.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have bought several books in the "Very Short Introduction..." series all of which have been excellent and this one in particular is extremely clear and interesting. The book is aimed at the intelligent layperson and gives a general introduction to what maths really is and how professional mathematicians think about it. This approach is in contrast to most people's experience in school where tedious and repetitive calculation is the norm (which is a real shame). Various areas in maths are looked at and the ideas behind them are explained rather than the reader being hit with big formulae and funny looking symbols.
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Format: Paperback
It is amazing how Tim Gowers, one of the greatest mathematicians
of our time, managed to convey the spirit and content of math to the general reader, and not only. Even professional mathematicians will learn a lot from his insightful remarks.
This ``little'' book is destined to become a classic of popular
science writing.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have already a growing number of "very short introduction.." on my bookshelf and quite enjoy reading them.
I think its a very good series except for the text font and layout which I am not a big fan. I find them hard to read sometimes but they do have the advantage of being pocket size so handy.

This one on Mathematics brought be back to my young age at school. I would have been so pleased to have a math teacher such as Mr Gower.

He has a talent to explain complex things simply. Some worked examples may be a bit derouting for some of us who dont use maths every day but you honnestly do not have to read everything. I read this book with a relaxed attitude, trying to enjoy more than to learn. The book is also loaded with diagrams which helps you further to understand some key concepts.

What I found fascinating was that some maths conjectures are still not resolved to this date. Finally, the last sections on "FAQ" is very useful and instructive.

7/10
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By A Customer on 28 Dec. 2004
Format: Paperback
This book demystifies puzzling concepts such as infinity, curved space, n-dimensional space and fractional dimensions. His emphasis on the abstract method - the focus on what mathetical objects DO rather than what they really ARE - as the key to understanding all these concepts is amazingly powerful, truly an eye-opener.
A basic knowledge of mathematics is an advantage
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Format: Paperback
An introduction to mathematics could be just that; elementary arithmetic and geometry, or it could be an outline history or finally, it could introduce the philosophical aspects of the subject. Gowers does none of those, although he does touch on the history and philosophy of mathematics. This is really an introduction to higher mathematics, for readers who have reached what in Britain is GCSE standard, roughly eleventh grade in the US.
Philosophically, Gowers is a pragmatist. To him, problematic concepts like infinity and irrational numbers have meaning in as much as they are useful, and are true in as much as they give true results. As a European, Gowers credits Wittgenstein with these ideas. An American author would have credited William James. Gowers sidesteps rather than resolves philosophical problems, thus giving reassurance to mathematicians and irritation to philosophers.
The book is a random selection of topics rather than a continuous narrative, but succeeds because each topic is fascinating and the writing is clear throughout.
Under "Further Reading", Gowers includes his own website address, where you can find sections that did not make it into the book. What a good idea! The site is as full of good stuff as the book, and gives links to further sites that will give you as much mathematics as you will ever want.
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