Number: The Language of Science

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Penguin, Jan 1, 2007 - Mathematics - 398 pages
3 Reviews
Number is an eloquent, accessible tour de force that reveals how the concept of number evolved from prehistoric times through the twentieth century. Tobias Dantzig shows that the development of math—from the invention of counting to the discovery of infinity—is a profoundly human story that progressed by “trying and erring, by groping and stumbling.” He shows how commerce, war, and religion led to advances in math, and he recounts the stories of individuals whose breakthroughs expanded the concept of number and created the mathematics that we know today.

 

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Number: the language of science

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First published in 1930, Dantzig's title presents the human side of math, theorizing that the evolution of numbers is directly linked to advances in human culture, economics, etc. Read full review

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I really liked most of this book. It really revolutionized my whole feel of the number system. I am really proud that I read this book. However, the frequent latin phrases had me annoyed, or at least wishing I was born at the turn of LAST century, when I assume that authors used such prose more often. A great book altogether though, just written in a style that seemed a little outdated. 

Contents

Fingerprints
1
The Empty Column
19
Numberlore
37
The Last Number
59
Symbols
79
The Unutterable
103
This Flowing World
125
The Art of Becoming
145
The Domain of Number
187
The Anatomy of the Infinite
215
The Two Realities
239
Appendix A On the Recording of Numbers
261
Appendix B Topics in Integers
277
On Roots and Radicals
303
On Principles and Arguments
327
Copyright

Filling the Gaps
171

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About the author (2007)

Tobias Dantzig was born in Russia, and was taught by Henri Poincaré in France before moving the United States. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Indiana, and was a professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland. He died in 1956.
Joseph Mazur is Professor of Mathematics at Marlboro College, where he has taught a wide range of classes in all areas of mathematics, its history, and philosophy.

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