Prime Numbers: The Most Mysterious Figures in Math

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Wiley, May 18, 2005 - Mathematics - 272 pages
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A fascinating journey into the mind-bending world of prime numbers

Cicadas of the genus Magicicada appear once every 7, 13, or 17 years. Is it just a coincidence that these are all prime numbers? How do twin primes differ from cousin primes, and what on earth (or in the mind of a mathematician) could be sexy about prime numbers? What did Albert Wilansky find so fascinating about his brother-in-law's phone number?

Mathematicians have been asking questions about prime numbers for more than twenty-five centuries, and every answer seems to generate a new rash of questions. In Prime Numbers: The Most Mysterious Figures in Math, you'll meet the world's most gifted mathematicians, from Pythagoras and Euclid to Fermat, Gauss, and Erd?o?s, and you'll discover a host of unique insights and inventive conjectures that have both enlarged our understanding and deepened the mystique of prime numbers. This comprehensive, A-to-Z guide covers everything you ever wanted to know—and much more that you never suspected—about prime numbers, including:

  • The unproven Riemann hypothesis and the power of the zeta function
  • The "Primes is in P" algorithm
  • The sieve of Eratosthenes of Cyrene
  • Fermat and Fibonacci numbers
  • The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search
  • And much, much more

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Prime numbers: the most mysterious figures in math

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The recent spate of popular books on the Riemann hypothesis, which concerns the distribution of prime numbers and is the greatest unsolved math problem since Andrew Wiles solved Fermat's famous last ... Read full review

About the author (2005)

DAVID WELLS is the author of numerous books of mathematical puzzles and general math, including You Are a Mathematician, also available from Wiley. He has contributed articles to The Mathematical Intelligencer and The Mathematical Gazette. Wells lives in London, England.

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