Mathematical Masterpieces: Further Chronicles by the Explorers

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Springer Science & Business Media, Aug 14, 2007 - Mathematics - 340 pages
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In introducing his essays on the study and understanding of nature and e- lution, biologist Stephen J. Gould writes: [W]e acquire a surprising source of rich and apparently limitless novelty from the primary documents of great thinkers throughout our history. But why should any nuggets, or even ?akes, be left for int- lectual miners in such terrain? Hasn’t the Origin of Species been read untold millions of times? Hasn’t every paragraph been subjected to overt scholarly scrutiny and exegesis? Letmeshareasecretrootedingeneralhumanfoibles. . . . Veryfew people, including authors willing to commit to paper, ever really read primary sources—certainly not in necessary depth and completion, and often not at all. . . . I can attest that all major documents of science remain cho- full of distinctive and illuminating novelty, if only people will study them—in full and in the original editions. Why would anyone not yearn to read these works; not hunger for the opportunity? [99, p. 6f] It is in the spirit of Gould’s insights on an approach to science based on p- mary texts that we o?er the present book of annotated mathematical sources, from which our undergraduate students have been learning for more than a decade. Although teaching and learning with primary historical sources require a commitment of study, the investment yields the rewards of a deeper understanding of the subject, an appreciation of its details, and a glimpse into the direction research has taken. Our students read sequences of primary sources.

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