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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mathematics made interesting
OK, so I have to confess I'm a bit geeky to begin with, but this audio CD was a fun and informative trawl through some of the great names in mathematics (with no actual knowledge of maths needed to enjoy). However, you should know that the entire series is available free as a podcast, so unless you specifically need the CD, you should probably just head over to iTunes.
Published 21 months ago by The Five Sisters

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable light listening - but history more than mathematics
Marcus du Sautoy clearly has a lot of enthusiasm for maths. That comes across and makes this an enjoyable listen. That said, you will come away knowing a little bit more about maths, but not much, and a lot more about mathematicians. As one reviewer has noted it might better be called "A brief history of mathematicians"

Pros:
- Its an easy listen
- It...
Published on 10 Sep 2011 by Mark Loughridge


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable light listening - but history more than mathematics, 10 Sep 2011
By 
Mark Loughridge (Letterkenny, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History of Mathematics (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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Marcus du Sautoy clearly has a lot of enthusiasm for maths. That comes across and makes this an enjoyable listen. That said, you will come away knowing a little bit more about maths, but not much, and a lot more about mathematicians. As one reviewer has noted it might better be called "A brief history of mathematicians"

Pros:
- Its an easy listen
- It introduces a range of mathematical ideas
- It gives a human face to some of the ideas

Cons:
- If you want a genuine brief history of mathematics you might best look elsewhere.
- Audio isn't an ideal way to present maths. A few times I wondered if it was just the audio track off a TV series, and that I was missing the visuals. I dont think it was, and it wasnt too often that I thought that.

Summary - a good stocking filler for a sciency type, or for the maths/physics teacher you know.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mathematics made interesting, 16 Nov 2012
By 
The Five Sisters (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History of Mathematics (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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OK, so I have to confess I'm a bit geeky to begin with, but this audio CD was a fun and informative trawl through some of the great names in mathematics (with no actual knowledge of maths needed to enjoy). However, you should know that the entire series is available free as a podcast, so unless you specifically need the CD, you should probably just head over to iTunes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable, 12 Dec 2011
By 
Ed.F "edz314" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History of Mathematics (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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I really enjoyed this series on CD. It's quietly improved a week or so of commutes to and from the office with a fascinating narrative journey through the last five hundred years or so of Mathematical progress from the viewpoint of the mathematicians who drove the science forward. Probably not for everyone but if you like this sort of thing it's hard to recommend it highly enough. Wonderful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than the sum of its parts, 10 Sep 2011
By 
wabrit (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Brief History of Mathematics (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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Marcus de Sautoy's recent TV series "The Code", whilst being a welcome chance to see a maths-based programme on the telly, illustrated the pitfalls of that medium when it comes to the presentation of science; over-reliance on meaningless visual tropes (speeded-up film, blurred shots, an inability to keep the camera still and to simply watch), international jaunts for the presenter to little effect, lack of confidence in its audience to deal with concepts, etc.

Radio on the other hand seems thankfully inured to such temptations, and is far better suited to the presentation of interesting and challenging material (as witness Melvyn Bragg's wonderful "In Our Time" series). Hence this CD of the complete series of short (15 minute) programmes on mathematicians who manage to combine important contributions to the field with a fascinating personal backstory doesn't spoon-feed or insult the intelligence of the listener, and illustrates how good a presenter Mr de Sautoy when he doesn't have to deal with the compromises of making a TV programme. Highly recommended to mathematicians and non-mathematicians alike.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a superficial look at key mathematical advances since Newton, 20 Aug 2011
By 
H. Ashford "hashford" (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History of Mathematics (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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This audio series is billed as a BRIEF history of mathematics, so it is hardly surprising that it contains only a superficial look at the subject. And, as other reviewers have pointed out, it covers only Western mathematics since the time of Newton.

The format of each episode is to give you a bit of historical detail about the individual, together with a summary of their main contributions to the subject and some illustrations of how/where that area of maths is used. The style is anecdotal and accessible; personally I didn't find it patronising, but I can see why other people might.

For me, the mix didn't quite work The anecdotal history was probably intended to provide colour and personal interest (and that may work for some listeners) - to me it felt like irrelevant detail. And the maths veered between painfully detailed (two or three sentences explaining what a ratio of 1:2 is) and skating completely over the surface leaving me with unanswered questions (eg, how exactly did a Gaussian distribution help Gauss plot the path of asteroid Ceres???)

Of course, I suppose it would be exceedingly difficult to put across any more than the most basic mathematical ideas in an audio presentation - which made me wonder why DuSautoy chose this particular medium.

In terms of the audio CD itself, yes, it would have been nicer if they had removed the starting and ending jingles for each episode, and especially that nasty scraping sound (which I eventually worked out was supposed to be chalk on a blackboard!) which dashed unpleasantly from one ear to the other giving me a moment's dizziness every time.

Overall - I didn't think this was as good as his TV programmes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe a little too brief - but interesting all the same, 18 Aug 2011
By 
R. Stevens "TechAddict" (London, Wimbledon) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History of Mathematics (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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I recently enjoyed the BBC TV series' "The Story of Science: Power Proof and Passion", "Science and Islam" and Marcus du Sautoy's own "The Story of Maths" and I was hungry for more. Given the chance to try out Du Sautoy's radio version on the history of maths I couldn't resist.

The sad thing about this series is the second word in the title - 'Brief'. Two and a half hours seems quite long when you say it, but with ten episodes to cover, Du Sautoy is limited to just a few key highlights for each of the personalities that he presents. It's great to whet your appetite, but leaves you wanting a little more.

Not being much of a math-head myself I can assure you that the level of mathematical knowledge and understanding needed to follow these episodes is not high. There are some mind bending sections, the subject of infinity being one, but generally Marcus concentrates on the people and keeps the maths as simple as possible.

If you enjoyed the series' I mention at the start of this review, you'll very likely get something out of these CDs, but don't expect as rich an experience as you got with the TV shows. Being quite short there is little to warrant listening to the series more than 2 or 3 times, but it is worth listening to at least once.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Certainly whets the appetite, 18 Aug 2011
By 
J. Lyne (Forres, Morayshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History of Mathematics (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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This excellently produced BBC audio production is more of a very brief history into some of the key figures in mathematics over time rather than a history of mathematics itself (although the two are obviously intertwined). Each of the episodes covers a mathematician, and then very briefly describes their discovery, and how that has affected the modern world.

The episodes are just long enough to grab your interest even if, like me, you are not a mathematician. However they are also short enough to avoid much of the complicated explanations that could turn us non maths type people off. Most people will have heard the names of the people discussed, but may well not be able to place them or know what they have done for modern life. And that is what this series explains best.

Easy to listen to, the author and guest speakers obviously have great enthusiasm for their subject yet are able to explain it in a (mostly) non baffling way. And the production quality is excellent too.

Overall I really enjoyed this, and it has certainly provoked my interest in certain areas and left me slightly baffled in others. (How can there be more of one infinite type of number than another?) A bit of personal research required I think...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars succint and informative, 15 Aug 2011
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maximus (manchester, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History of Mathematics (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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I was intrigued, prior to listening to this CD set, as to how maths could be presented on radio, without the visual aids of diagrams and seeing illustrations which are often associated with such series when they're aired as TV documentaries. The answer is that Marcus du Sautoy does it effortlessly with figurative descriptions and comparison to commonly known visual references (for example, he describes a pure SINE wave as the repeated lock ness monster bumps as it is often affectionately drawn). The main aspect is brief history of Maths and he starts from Newton, so it really is a concise run through of modern mathematics and its impact on our world today and examples of prominent, sometimes unexpected, applications.

Highly recommended
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting - not dull at all, 15 Aug 2011
By 
Mr. Dk Hamm "hornet123" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History of Mathematics (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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Marcus Du Sautoy is a familiar character to anyone with a modicum of interest in maths through his appearances on TV, particularly his series on the prime numbers.

This collection of short radio programmes (about 15 minutes each) deals with various mathemeticians in history with each programme covering one person's contribution to mathematical science.

As such, this is really a history programme rather than a mathematical one and no knowledge of maths is required to enjoy it, just an interest in numbers.

Marcus du Sautoy is an excellent broadcaster who really knows his subject and puts it across in an interesting and entertaining way.

Each episode gives an overview of a particular mathemetician but without going into too much depth so that the listener doesn't become bored.

Not recommended for mathematicians who whould know all of this and more but for the layman, this CD set presents and interesting 2 hours on some of the theories that have shaped our world of numbers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tantalising view of the history of mathematics, 13 Aug 2011
By 
Mrs. K. A. P. Wright - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Brief History of Mathematics (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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This is, as it says, a brief history of mathematics - too brief. It consists of ten short episodes which discuss various topics of mathematics and the people who formulated them. Each topic is fascinating and I wanted to know more. I also wanted to know more details of the connections between each topic. That is the major problem, to do this it would immediately cease to be a BRIEF history and become something far more complex and lengthy.

It was also at times frustrating talking about problems such as the Seven Bridges of Koenigsberg and the hypercube which makes up La Grande Arche de la Defense in Paris. These needed to be demonstrated visually. Things got better when I started to look at the relevant images on Google as I listened.

Another thing that niggled was that some of the discussions of the way the theories were applied were quite superficial. This might be because they were far too complex to be understood in any depth by the non mathematician. Perhaps, but it also raises a problem I have found with the teaching of mathematics, certainly at school level, that is that you are taught mathematical topics but not how to apply them or why they are important. For example, I was taught calculus at school and was very good at it, but I hadn't a clue what I was doing when I completed exercise after exercise of differentiation problems. In the first episode discussing Newton and Leibnitz and the development of calculus, I thought I was going to get my answer, but no, apart from being told it was to do with movement and that it was used nowadays to predict movements in the money market, I know no more. I wanted to know HOW it was used.

So in many ways these discs are deeply frustrating, but, and I think this may have been Professor du Sautoy's real intention, I am even more interested in maths and I want to know more.
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A Brief History of Mathematics (BBC Audio)
A Brief History of Mathematics (BBC Audio) by Marcus Du Sautoy (Audio CD - 7 July 2011)
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