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The Mathematical Experience

A book by Phillip J. Davis

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Yes, math really is enthralling

  • Jun 14, 2011

Davis and Hersh do for math what Hawking does for physics and Dawkins does for biology. I read this book in college where, admittedly, I was studying mathematics. But I loved the book for how it put into words the excitement of trying to solve a problem, and put into context the history of how we came to want to solve problems. There's music, art, nature, philosophy and more in the study of math, and the authors give fascinating pictures of mathematicians and their times, as well as their subjects. Different areas of math fill different chapters, and if you imagined all math is bound in the unimaginative half of the brain, this book will have you quickly imagining more. Knowing some basic math, sines and cosines perhaps, and the format of basic mathematical diagrams will help, but it's not essential to enjoying this book--there's even a chapter on symbols to help them make sense. And another on abstraction, formalization, algorithms... and fig leaves?

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Sheila Deeth ()
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Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
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About this book


We tend to think of mathematics as uniquely rigorous, and of mathematicians as supremely smart. In his introduction toThe Mathematical Experience,Gian-Carlo Rotanotes that instead, "a mathematician's work is mostly a tangle of guesswork, analogy, wishful thinking and frustration, and proof ... is more often than not a way of making sure that our minds are not playing tricks." Philip Davis and Reuben Hersh discuss everything from the nature of proof to the Euclid myth, and mathematical aesthetics to non-Cantorian set theory. They make a convincing case for the idea that mathematics is not about eternal reality, but comprises "true facts about imaginary objects" and belongs among the human sciences.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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ISBN-10: 0395929687
ISBN-13: 978-0395929681
Author: Phillip J. Davis
Publisher: Mariner Books

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