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The Great Mathematical Problems [Kindle Edition]

Ian Stewart
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Product Description


Stewart's imaginative, often-witty anecdotes, analogies and diagrams succeed in illuminating ... some very difficult ideas. It will enchant math enthusiasts as well as general readers who pay close attention (Kirkus Reviews)

Britain's most brilliant and prolific populariser of mathematics (Alex Bellos Guardian)

Praise for previous books:

'This is not pure maths. It is maths contaminated with wit, wisdom, and wonder. Ian really is unsurpassed as raconteur of the world of numbers. He guides us on a mind-boggling journey from the ultra trivial to the profound. Thoroughly entertaining

(New Scientist)

Stewart has served up the instructive equivalent of a Michelin-starred tasting menu, or perhaps a smorgasbord of appetisers. And of course, appetisers are designed to give you an appetite for more (Guardian)

Book Description

'Britain's foremost populariser of maths' Ian Stewart reveals the ultimate questions that take us to the limits of mathematics - now available in paperback.

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More About the Author

Professor Ian Stewart is the author of many popular science books. He is the mathematics consultant for the New Scientist and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick. He was awarded the Michael Faraday Medal for furthering the public understanding of science, and in 2001 became a Fellow of the Royal Society.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as expected 29 April 2013
By Macboy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm a bit of a fan of Ian Stewart but this time he hasn't quite hit the mark. He does indeed deal with the great mathematical problems but he seems to have trouble finding the right level of difficulty and detail. So he does the historical perspective well but becomes confusing in the mathematical perspective. Sometimes there is an explanation and sometimes he simply admits that it's too advanced and pushes on. This approach left me wanting fewer great problems and more extended and clearer explanations.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Ian Stewart is a fairly prolific author of books popularising maths. This is one of his best. He takes the reader through 14 major mathematical problems, and along the way explains some advanced maths in comprehensible language. Where the maths is too complicated to expound in detail, he gives enough of a feel for what it is about for the layman to perceive the essence. There are passages one needs to read slowly and carefully, but only a basic knowledge of maths is assumed. Besides the maths itself, there are fascinating glimpses into how professional mathematicians think and how new major mathematical insights come about. Thoroughly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful achievement in mathematical exposition. 26 April 2013
By Mr R
Following an introductory chapter of a general nature we are treated to 15 chapters exhibiting well-chosen and wide-ranging examples, including the well-known Goldbach conjecture, and squaring the circle, through to the so-called Millennium Problems. Don't expect a rehash of other authors' accounts of these problems: Stewart injects rare enthusiasm, vitality, and fresh insights throughout. Particularly spellbinding are the chapters on the Mordell Conjecture, Fermat's Last Theorem (yes, I realise it has been flogged to death in recent years, but this chapter is truly refreshing), and the Riemann Hypothesis. The Hodge Conjecture is perhaps overambitious; but the real coup is the last chapter, entitled 'Twelve for the future', and I defy anyone to read that without a frisson of excitement! Some of these are immediately accessible (the Collatz Conjecture, and the 'Lonely Runner Conjecture') and the final and irresistible ABC Conjecture will have you searching the internet.
Prospective undergraduates cannot fail to be inspired by this book: it is the best inducement to study mathematics that I've seen in some time, so every school should have at least one copy on the library shelves. Pupils will find perfectly intelligible accounts of extensions of number systems (rings without unique factorisation), elliptic curves, and much more. Of course, many graduates are familiar with Stewart's university texts (Galois Theory, Algebraic Number Theory...)
Just one or two oversights. for example, I didn't think much of the phrase on page 216, which talks of forces generated by a particle's acceleration (it's the other way round). Misprints are mercifully few: eg on page 167 we read of Titchmarsh working in 1986 (long after his demise).
This must be Ian Stewart's most attractive book on popular mathematics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - very clearly written 10 July 2013
By rosy44
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found this book exceeded my expectations of "popular" books on mathematics and physics topics. The explanations are comprehensive putting the problems into historical and mathematical contexts which give the reader a very good insight into why they are "great" rather than simply a bit of a puzzle. Also the author manages make the stories readable by successfully treading the fine line between being lightweight and being too rigorous to be readable. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to know about the sorts of problems mathematicians wrestle with.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant 15 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ian Stewart at his very best yet. It shouldn't be underestimated just what a demanding task Professor Stewart sets himself in this book. The problems are mostly easy enough to express but to outline the historical progress made with each problem in a meaningful but accessible way that leaves the reader educated in the mathematical approach taken and to identify and tie together the deeper over-arching principles that human progress through difficult maths problems have often shared - that is tough and he does it quite brilliantly. A real masterpiece, the product of many long hours of careful thought on approach I suspect, and a super book for all gifted GCSE or A Level pupils to help the budding love of the subject blossom.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just wanted to add... 28 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition enthusiastic endorsement of this exceptional book. Ian Stewart never dilutes his mathematics, but always makes it accessible & interesting for everyone.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maths for hobby mathematicians 11 Nov. 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Beautifully written; no oversimplifying and no condescending, and with the odd touch of wry humour, too. This is not a book for the mathematically underprivileged, though.Although the author puts all his material in the most straightforward way, it isn't all easy going. If you are halfway to a maths or physics degree and find number theory fascinating, this book will be exactly what you want.
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I have A level maths and found it utterly beyond me. Don't purchase unless you have a degree in maths and need stimulus.
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