Download A History in Sum: 150 Years of Mathematics at Harvard, by Shing-Tung Yau, Steve Nadis PDF

By Shing-Tung Yau, Steve Nadis

Within the 20th century, American mathematicians started to make severe advances in a box formerly ruled by means of Europeans. Harvard's arithmetic division was once on the heart of those advancements. A background in Sum is an inviting account of the pioneers who trailblazed a extraordinarily American culture of mathematics--in algebraic geometry and topology, advanced research, quantity idea, and a bunch of esoteric subdisciplines that experience infrequently been written approximately outdoors of magazine articles or complex textbooks. The heady mathematical innovations that emerged, and the lads and girls who formed them, are defined right here in energetic, available prose.

The tale starts off in 1825, while a precocious sixteen-year-old freshman, Benjamin Peirce, arrived on the university. He might turn into the 1st American to provide unique mathematics--an ambition frowned upon in an period whilst professors principally constrained themselves to instructing. Peirce's successors--William Fogg Osgood and Maxime Bôcher--undertook the duty of reworking the maths division right into a world-class study middle, attracting to the school such luminaries as George David Birkhoff. Birkhoff produced a blinding physique of labor, whereas education a new release of innovators--students like Marston Morse and Hassler Whitney, who solid novel pathways in topology and different parts. Influential figures from world wide quickly flocked to Harvard, a few overcoming nice demanding situations to pursue their elected calling.

A historical past in Sum elucidates the contributions of those notable minds and makes transparent why the heritage of the Harvard arithmetic division is a vital a part of the historical past of arithmetic in the US and beyond.

Editorial Reviews
This booklet tells the story of ways arithmetic built at Harvard--and via extension within the United States--since early days. it really is packed with interesting tales approximately a number of the mythical names of contemporary arithmetic. either lovers of arithmetic and readers considering the heritage of Harvard will get pleasure from it. (Edward Witten, Professor of Physics, Institute for complex Study)

A background in Sum is a gorgeous tribute to a stunning topic, one who illuminates arithmetic throughout the lens of a few of its such a lot notable practitioners. The authors' love of arithmetic shines via each bankruptcy, as they use obtainable and lively language to explain a wealth of heady insights and the all-too-human tales of the minds that came across them. there's probably no higher publication for immersion into the curious and compelling heritage of mathematical idea. (Brian Greene, Professor of arithmetic & Physics, Columbia University)

The publication is written in a leisurely sort, the scope is remarkably wide, and the themes coated are defined astonishingly good. as soon as i began the publication, I easily couldn't positioned it down and that i was once ecstatic to simply comprehend vital arithmetic faraway from my very own examine pursuits. (Joel Smoller, Professor of arithmetic, collage of Michigan)

A heritage in Sum includes a wealth of excellent tales, tales that visit the center of the advance of arithmetic during this state. The authors reach humanizing and enlivening what may possibly rather be a dry therapy of the topic. (Ron Irving, Professor of arithmetic, collage of Washington)

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Extra resources for A History in Sum: 150 Years of Mathematics at Harvard, 1825-1975

Example text

Peirce was there as an observer to appraise the validity of the proceedings. He was not surprised that the three-day event yielded no positive results. On a separate occasion, Peirce investigated the spiritualistic claims of a woman who said she came in contact with a universal force called “Od” in the presence of powerful magnets. 49 The séance- and spiritualism-busting activities were part of a broader effort that Peirce was involved in, along with other prominent friends and scientists, including Bache, as well as Louis Agassiz, an eminent zoologist and geologist at Harvard, and Joseph Henry, one of the country’s leading scientists who served as the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

It is that of one of the two greatest geometers of England, J. J. Sylvester. If you enquire about him, you will hear his genius universally recognized but his power of teaching will probably be said to be quite deficient.

76 During the 1879–80 academic year, Peirce was engaged in the study of cosmology—or “cosmical physics,” as he called it. He planned to teach a course on the subject in the following year, but his health failed him. Peirce died on October 6, 1880, before he had the chance to explain the universe—its origins, formation, and evolution—to those Harvard students capable of following his often vexing style of discourse. Peirce approached death stoically, girded by his lifelong faith. He expressed no great sorrow, for instance, when his father died in 1831 at the age of fifty-three.

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