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Mathematics without Apologies: Portrait of a…
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Mathematics without Apologies: Portrait of a Problematic Vocation (Science…

by Michael Harris

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An idiosyncratic, erudite, scholarly, heavily endnoted, linguistically diverse (quotations in French, German, Russian, etc) look at present-day pure math: its sociology, ethos, tradition-based nature, (mis?)use in finance, appearance in Pynchon novels, relation to romanticism and carnality, foundations, ongoing influence of Grothendieck and Langlands, proof "tricks", whether it is _epistêmê_ or _technê_ (science or art), bits of "dinner-party-level" number theory, and more. Enjoyable -- in ways wildly different from GH Hardy's classic little _Apology_, with which it intentionally contrasts.
  fpagan | Feb 22, 2016 |
8/25/2015 3:10 PM Well reviewed book by high level practicing mathematician
  ntgntg | Aug 25, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0691154236, Hardcover)

What do pure mathematicians do, and why do they do it? Looking beyond the conventional answers--for the sake of truth, beauty, and practical applications--this book offers an eclectic panorama of the lives and values and hopes and fears of mathematicians in the twenty-first century, assembling material from a startlingly diverse assortment of scholarly, journalistic, and pop culture sources.

Drawing on his personal experiences and obsessions as well as the thoughts and opinions of mathematicians from Archimedes and Omar Khayyám to such contemporary giants as Alexander Grothendieck and Robert Langlands, Michael Harris reveals the charisma and romance of mathematics as well as its darker side. In this portrait of mathematics as a community united around a set of common intellectual, ethical, and existential challenges, he touches on a wide variety of questions, such as: Are mathematicians to blame for the 2008 financial crisis? How can we talk about the ideas we were born too soon to understand? And how should you react if you are asked to explain number theory at a dinner party?

Disarmingly candid, relentlessly intelligent, and richly entertaining, Mathematics without Apologies takes readers on an unapologetic guided tour of the mathematical life, from the philosophy and sociology of mathematics to its reflections in film and popular music, with detours through the mathematical and mystical traditions of Russia, India, medieval Islam, the Bronx, and beyond.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:45 -0400)

What do pure mathematicians do, and why do they do it? Looking beyond the conventional answers--for the sake of truth, beauty, and practical applications--this book offers an eclectic panorama of the lives and values and hopes and fears of mathematicians in the twenty-first century, assembling material from a startlingly diverse assortment of scholarly, journalistic, and pop culture sources.… (more)

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