Men of Mathematics

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Touchstone, Oct 15, 1986 - Mathematics - 608 pages
39 Reviews
From one of the greatest minds in contemporary mathematics, Professor E.T. Bell, comes a witty, accessible, and fascinating look at the beautiful craft and enthralling history of mathematics.

Men of Mathematics provides a rich account of major mathematical milestones, from the geometry of the Greeks through Newton’s calculus, and on to the laws of probability, symbolic logic, and the fourth dimension. Bell breaks down this majestic history of ideas into a series of engrossing biographies of the great mathematicians who made progress possible—and who also led intriguing, complicated, and often surprisingly entertaining lives.

Never pedantic or dense, Bell writes with clarity and simplicity to distill great mathematical concepts into their most understandable forms for the curious everyday reader. Anyone with an interest in math may learn from these rich lessons, an advanced degree or extensive research is never necessary.

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A supremely well written and engrossing collection of short biographies. From this light hearted work a comprehensive view of the development of modern mathematics appears.

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Heliotropes improved geodesy. Read full review



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About the author (1986)

Eric Temple Bell was born in 1883 in Aberdeen, Scotland. His early education was obtained in England. Coming to the United States in 1902, he entered Stanford University and took his A.B. degree in 1904. In 1908 he was teaching fellow at the University of Washington, where he took his A.M. degree in 1909. In 1911 he entered Columbia University, where he took his Ph.D. degree in 1912. He returned to the University of Washington as instructor in mathematics and became full professor in 1921. During the summers of 1924-28 he taught at the University of Chicago, and in 1926 (first half) at Harvard University, when he was appointed Professor of Mathematics at the California Institute of Technology.

Dr. Bell was a former President of the Mathematical Association of America, a former Vice President of the American Mathematical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was on the editorial staffs of the Transactions of the American Mathematical Society, the American Journal of Mathematics, and the Journal of the Philosophy of Science. He belonged to The American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, the Circolo Matematico di Palermo, the Calcutta Mathematical Society, Sigma Xi, and Phi Beta Kappa, and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. He won the B˘cher Prize of the American Mathematical Society for his research work. His twelve published books include The Purple Sapphire (1924), Algebraic Arithmetic (1927), Debunking Science, and Queen of the Sciences (1931), Numerology (1933), and The Search for Truth (1934).

Dr. Bell died in December 1960, just before the publication of his latest book, The Last Problem.

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