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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and comprehensible to the layman. Ian Stewart at his best.
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...
Published 9 months ago by M. F. Cayley

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as expected
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...
Published on 29 April 2013 by Macboy


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as expected, 29 April 2013
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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and comprehensible to the layman. Ian Stewart at his best., 11 Aug. 2014
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M. F. Cayley (Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Great Mathematical Problems (Paperback)
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
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
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rosy44 (Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I have A level maths and found it utterly beyond ..., 9 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Great Mathematical Problems (Paperback)
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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maths for hobby mathematicians, 11 Nov. 2013
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Mr. G. Saxby (Wolverhampton, UK) - See all my reviews
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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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant, 15 July 2013
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Paul Baker - See all my reviews
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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
...my enthusiastic endorsement of this exceptional book. Ian Stewart never dilutes his mathematics, but always makes it accessible & interesting for everyone.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good read - a little redundant with the many popular ..., 27 Mar. 2015
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George O'Rourke (Whittier, CA, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Great Mathematical Problems (Paperback)
Good read - a little redundant with the many popular texts already on the market but if it is the only one you're getting you' ll enjoy it tremendously
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ian Stewart has several beautifully written books for non mathematicians, and this book is one of them., 1 May 2015
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This review is from: The Great Mathematical Problems (Paperback)
Ian Stewart has several beautifully written books for non mathematicians, and this book is one of them.
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The Great Mathematical Problems
The Great Mathematical Problems by Ian Stewart (Paperback - 6 Mar. 2014)
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