Thursday, October 9, 2008

Journey Through Genius - The Right Way To Learn Mathematics

I wish I had read Journey Through Genius when I was doing my high school or even when I was in college. It would have made a world of difference to my understanding of mathematics.

William Dunham takes you on an intellectual journey starting with the genius of Hippocrates right to the brilliance of Cantor. On the way, we are introduced to the great theorems of the likes of Euclid, Archimedes (no not the Eureka moment - something simpler and more fundamental), Issac Newton, the Bernouliis and Euler.

Each theorem is presented in its historical context. The lfe of the great mathematicians is discussed - they were very ordinary and normal in other spheres of life activity. And unlike many other pop-mathematics book floating in the market place, there is no attempt to dumb down the mathematics involved. The theorem is well annotated and invites you to try the proof yourself (that is the only way to understand mathematics - reading through the pages does not suffice).

The beauty of this book is that it touches upon those aspects which we take for granted. 10/10 random people off the street will be able to tell you the formula for area of a circle - right! "pi r squared". This book tells you how Archimedes measured the area of the circle. Another gem is Newton's approximation of "pi". Just reading the two chapters in Euler makes me want to buy and read Euler: The Master Of Us All

And since all mathematics in this book is atleast 100 years old, it is not that difficult to follow either.

I am already encouraging my sons to read this book. They seem to enjoy the story surrounding the life of the mathematicians.

Note: The picture used here belongs to Vince Petaccio. Please visit here to see more such photgraphs.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments:

My Library