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A Mathematician's Apology

  • Thread starter Dj Sneaky Whiskers
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Dj Sneaky Whiskers

A Mathematician's Apology

G.H. Hardy

Cambridge University Press

ISBN 0-521-42706-1


INTRODUCTION: Although this isn't strictly a Mathematical text, it is a book on the subject of Mathematics, or, more specifically, the thoughts of an eminent Mathematician, then at the end of his career, on the subject of his chosen field. G.H. Hardy was the 'purest of the pure' of Mathematicians, concentrating upon Number Theory and Analysis, despite having (in collaboration with Weinberg) managed to establish the mathematical basis for population genetics. Following a career, during which he became a fellow of the Royal Society and served as president of the London Maths Society, he wrote his 'apology'.

It serves as a rare insight into the mind of such a figure (at least in the world of Mathematics); describing his view of the significance of Mathematics, the distinctions between pure and applied Maths, and whether or not Mathematics is a worthwhile preoccupation, amongst other topics.

PROS/CONS: It would be unfair to the author to discuss pros and cons, being, as 'A Mathematician's Apology' is, a largely personal account. At most it can be said that some will enjoy the narrative style (being that of a classically educated Cambridge man of the Edwardian generation in the 1940's), whilst some will undoubtably not.

CONCLUSION: A highly enjoyable account of Mathematics. Both witty and at times poignant, such a book serves as a useful reminder to the more...over-zealous...of undergraduates that Maths is ultimately a human endeavour which, in practice, is at times more akin to a creative act than the performance of soulless calculation. It was not simply out of a desire to flatter that Graham Greene called it 'the best account of what it is like to be a creative artist'.
 

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