25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Very good, but could have been better...,
This review is from: The Music of the Primes: Why an Unsolved Problem in Mathematics Matters (Paperback)
I really wanted this book to be as good as Simon Singh's 'Fermat's Last Theorem', and while it shares many of the same characteristics as Singh's excellent debut, for me it didn't quite match up.
Of course, there my be a couple of simple reasons why this may have been so. Firstly, the Riemann Hypothesis is a rather more conceptually difficult mathematical problem to grasp than Pierre de Fermat's simple but elusive conjecture. Du Sautoy tries to deal with this by using analogies to landscapes and music, but due to the gaps between my reading sessions, I sometimes forgot the origin of the analogical thread, which meant I had to search back through the text to 'catch up'.
The other main reason why this book was less satisfying is because nobody has yet proven Riemann's Hypthesis to be true, whereas Fermat's Last Theorem was finally proven by Andrew Wiles in the 1990's.
Lastly, the book could have benefited from a series of notes or appendices linked to the text, through which the keen reader could gain a mathematical explanation of what was being described in the text. Again, Singh's book is a beautiful example of how this should be done.
Overall though, a very good book, which I am sure I will read again.
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Initial post: 2 May 2009 15:11:51 BDT
S. Powell says:
Quite a good review, though it is hardly the author's fault that the Riemann Hypothesis isn't proven yet. I suppose it would have been much more satisfying if Marcus had proved the result first asnd then published hispopular account. I'm surprised the publishers didn't think of it.
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