The Mathematical Century: The 30 Greatest Problems of the Last 100 Years
The twentieth century was a time of unprecedented development in mathematics, as well as in all sciences: more theorems were proved and results found in a hundred years than in all of previous history. In The Mathematical Century, Piergiorgio Odifreddi distills this unwieldy mass of knowledge into a fascinating and authoritative overview of the subject. He concentrates on thirty highlights of pure and applied mathematics. Each tells the story of an exciting problem, from its historical origins to its modern solution, in lively prose free of technical details.
Odifreddi opens by discussing the four main philosophical foundations of mathematics of the nineteenth century and ends by describing the four most important open mathematical problems of the twenty-first century. In presenting the thirty problems at the heart of the book he devotes equal attention to pure and applied mathematics, with applications ranging from physics and computer science to biology and economics. Special attention is dedicated to the famous "23 problems" outlined by David Hilbert in his address to the International Congress of Mathematicians in 1900 as a research program for the new century, and to the work of the winners of the Fields Medal, the equivalent of a Nobel prize in mathematics.
This eminently readable book will be treasured not only by students and their teachers but also by all those who seek to make sense of the elusive macrocosm of twentieth-century mathematics.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
This is a nice little book reviewing some of the significant challenges for mathematicians over the last century. It is accessible to those who like math, but it does not require a degree in it. It start off with setting up the major structural apparatus for mathematical thinking over 20 year periods. Sets in the 1920's, structures in the 1940's, categories in the 1960's, and functions in the 1980's. These relate to concerns prevalent during each 20 year period and the evolution to the next concept because of inadequacies of advancing understanding from the earlier configuration of thinking. Piergiorgio Odifreddi then goes through significant problems in pure mathematics, applied mathematics, computer and software development, and ending with open problems (perfect numbers, the Riemann hypothesis, the Poincaré conjecture, and complexity theory). I checked this book out of the library and is now on my wishlist.
The mathematical century: the 30 greatest problems of the last 100 yearsUser Review - Book Verdict
In this supplement to works like the author's Classical Recursion Theory and Freeman Dyson's Disturbing the Universe, Odifreddi (mathematical logic, Univ. of Turin, Italy) clearly and concisely describes important 20th-century developments in pure and applied mathematics. Odifreddi focuses on the history and solutions of 30 key problems, with additional sections on open problems and computer applications of mathematics. Unlike similar volumes, this book keeps descriptions general and contains a short section on the philosophical foundations of mathematics to help nonmathematicians easily navigate the material. Also included are lists of prize-winning researchers in mathematics and computer science. The 39 line illustrations greatly enhance understanding of the text. Highly recommended for large public and academic collections.-Elizabeth Brown, Binghamton Univ. Libs, NY ...