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The Riemann Hypothesis: The Greatest…

The Riemann Hypothesis: The Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics

by Karl Sabbagh

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The funny thing about this book, for me, is that it claims to simply be a study of how the Riemann Hypothesis has been scrutinized, fought over and beloved by mathematicians. It is not supposed to be analysis of the theory itself. And yet for me, a non-mathematician, it has gotten me the closest to understanding the R.H.

And the anecdotes are simply great. ( )
  palaverofbirds | Mar 29, 2013 |
Very gentle and readable intro to this million-dollar conjecture and the kind of people who would like to prove it.
  fpagan | Dec 19, 2006 |
I have an undergraduate degree in mathematics from a long time ago, but haven't done a whole lot with it. Nevertheless, I gained something of an appreciation for the subject and am always interested when something important enough happens that it gets into the popular press. So naturally enough, I have been aware of the number one unsolved problem of mathematics, the Riemann hypothesis, and have followed the sporadic claims of its resolution over the last few decades.

Mr. Sabbagh's popular treatment of the problem in this book was a delight for me to read. He explains the hypothesis very clearly in a way that really doesn't even require any specialized knowledge of any arcane area of mathematics. Though great, this is not the primary virtue of the book. Rather it is his effort to reach out to the dozen or so mathematicians who are actively working on the problem who might have a hope of finally, after about a century and a half, of proving it. The reader is thus led to some appreciation of the world of the professional mathematician, with all of its human hopes and jealousies, striving to achieve a legacy that will outlive themselves. Sabbagh interviews them, some of them several times, attends their seminars, and listens for the inside dope that might show that someone somewhere is onto something.

The book is engaging, and I found it impossible to put down. It has lots of anecdotes, asides, and curiosities along the way to liven up the story. It is brutally honest in its portrayals of the principle characters. The writing style is lively, and the math is easy to follow. And it tells a story of man at his best--striving for progress, precision and truth. Quite the opposite of so many charlatans of the academy today, who seem to revel in ambiguity, imprecision, and political correctness. ( )
1 vote DonSiano | Oct 20, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374529353, Paperback)

Since 1859, when the shy German mathematician Bernhard Riemann wrote an eight-page article giving a possible answer to a problem that had tormented mathematical minds for centuries, the world's greatest mathematicians have been fascinated, infuriated, and obsessed with proving the Riemann hypothesis. They speak of it in awed terms and consider it to be an even more difficult problem than Fermat's last theorem, which was finally proven by Andrew Wiles in 1995.

In The Riemann Hypothesis, acclaimed author Karl Sabbagh interviews some of the world's finest mathematicians who have spent their lives working on the problem--and whose approaches to meeting the challenges thrown up by the hypothesis are as diverse as their personalities.

Wryly humorous, lively, accessible and comprehensive, The Riemann Hypothesis is a compelling exploration of the people who do math and the ideas that motivate them to the brink of obsession--and a profound meditation on the ultimate meaning of mathematics.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:14 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"In The Riemann Hypothesis, acclaimed author Karl Sabbagh interviews some of the world-class mathematicians who spend their lives working on the hypothesis - many paying particular attention to "Riemann's zeros, " a series of points that are believed to lie in a straight line, though no one can prove it - and whose approaches to meeting the challenges thrown up by the hypothesis are as diverse as their personalities."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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