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A Certain Ambiguity: A Mathematical Novel by…
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A Certain Ambiguity: A Mathematical Novel

by Gaurav Suri

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A Certain Ambiguity is a novel centered around a young Indian student who discovers something about his grandfather and then investigates the mystery. In the process, he discovers much about geometry, infinity, and certainty.

The explanations of the proofs, such as a proof of the Pythagorean Theorem, are outstanding. Even the idea of infinity is explained clearly.

Unfortunately, the work does not fair well as a novel. The reader must have some interest in mathematics to read through the book. The dialog is predictable. The plot feels more than a bit contrived, as the main character is offered a scholarship to do graduate level mathematics and yet has never heard of non-Euclidean geometries. The characters are flat stereotypes.

If a person is interested in math, this is an amusing novel. If a person is looking for a good novel with math, this book falls short. ( )
1 vote LMHTWB | May 13, 2013 |
This is by no means a perfect novel; the dialog is frequently stiff and the plot is often implausible. But, it's been a long time since I've enjoyed reading a work of fiction as much as I did this one. The mathematical proofs that form much of the story are explained more clearly than anywhere else I've seen, the thoughts are big, and the sense of hope and possibility that the book achieves by the end is astounding. ( )
  wanack | Jun 12, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0691127093, Hardcover)

While taking a class on infinity at Stanford in the late 1980s, Ravi Kapoor discovers that he is confronting the same mathematical and philosophical dilemmas that his mathematician grandfather had faced many decades earlier--and that had landed him in jail. Charged under an obscure blasphemy law in a small New Jersey town in 1919, Vijay Sahni is challenged by a skeptical judge to defend his belief that the certainty of mathematics can be extended to all human knowledge--including religion. Together, the two men discover the power--and the fallibility--of what has long been considered the pinnacle of human certainty, Euclidean geometry.

As grandfather and grandson struggle with the question of whether there can ever be absolute certainty in mathematics or life, they are forced to reconsider their fundamental beliefs and choices. Their stories hinge on their explorations of parallel developments in the study of geometry and infinity--and the mathematics throughout is as rigorous and fascinating as the narrative and characters are compelling and complex. Moving and enlightening, A Certain Ambiguity is a story about what it means to face the extent--and the limits--of human knowledge.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:35 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"While taking a class on infinity at Stanford in the late 1980s, Ravi Kapoor discovers that he is confronting the same mathematical and philosophical dilemmas that his mathematician grandfather had faced many decades earlier - and that had landed him in jail. Charged under an obscure blasphemy law in a small New Jersey town in 1919, Vijay Sahni is challenged by a skeptical judge to defend his belief that the certainty of mathematics can be extended to all human knowledge - including religion. Together, the two men discover the power - and the fallibility - of what has long been considered the pinnacle of human certainty, Euclidean geometry." "As grandfather and grandson struggle with the question of whether there can ever be absolute certainty in mathematics or life, they are forced to reconsider their fundamental beliefs and choices. Their stories hinge on their explorations of parallel developments in the study of geometry and infinity - and the mathematics throughout is as rigorous and fascinating as the narrative and characters are compelling and complex."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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