2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating introduction to Conway's brilliant creation,
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This review is from: Surreal Numbers: How Two Ex-Students Turned on to Pure Mathematics and Found Total Happiness : A Mathematical Novelette (Paperback)
Conway's system of surreal numbers is one of the most brilliant creations of Mathematics. The system adds to the familiar numbers a vast family of infinite and infinitesimal numbers. It allow you to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers in this collection, and also to find such things as their seventh roots. The system is amazingly rich.
Knuth imagines two young lovers in the future finding the first clues to the system on stone tablets, and then shows how, from these clues, they begin to reconstruct Conway's system. It gives a feel for what research in mathematics is like. Sometimes, our two lovers make errors and have to retrace some of their steps.
To be sure, you need to think hard to get the best out of the book. You must not feel discouraged that you have to spend a long time proving such things as
0+1 = 1. The system you end up with will blow your mind.
Knuth, computer scientist par excellence, has done an excellent job.
Surreal Numbers: How Two Ex-Students Turned on to Pure Mathematics and Found Total Happiness : A Mathematical Novelette(5 customer reviews)