Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780192853615

Timothy Gowers
160 Pages
113 x 178 mm
Pub date
Aug 2002
Very Short Introductions


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  • A concise explanation of the differences between advanced mathematics and what we learn at school
  • Offers the reader an insight into such seemingly paradoxical concepts as infinity, the square root of minus one, and curved space
  • Tackles the sociological questions that arise regarding the mathematical community - e.g. 'Do mathematicians burn out at the age of 25?'
  • Clear and non-technical language throughout
  • The author received a Fields Medal for Mathematics in 1998, awarded for 'the most daring, profound and stimulating research done by young mathematicians'

The aim of this book is to explain, carefully but not technically, the differences between advanced, research-level mathematics, and the sort of mathematics we learn at school. The most fundamental differences are philosophical, and readers of this book will emerge with a clearer understanding of paradoxical-sounding concepts such as infinity, curved space, and imaginary numbers. The first few chapters are about general aspects of mathematical thought. These are followed by discussions of more specific topics, and the book closes with a chapter answering common sociological questions about the mathematical community (such as "Is it true that mathematicians burn out at the age of 25?")


1: Models
2: Numbers and Abstraction
3: Proofs
4: Limits and Infinity
5: Dimension
6: Geometry
7: Estimates and Approximates
8: Frequently Asked Questions

About the author: 

Timothy Gowers is Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University and was a recipient of a Fields Medal for Mathematics in 1998, awarded for 'the most daring, profound and stimulating research done by young mathematicians'.

a marvellously lucid guide to the beauty and mystery of numbers - Gilbert Adair

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