Author: Jacques Hadamard
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Release Date: 1996
Fifty years ago when Jacques Hadamard set out to explore how mathematicians invent new ideas, he considered the creative experiences of some of the greatest thinkers of his generation, such as George Polya, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and Albert Einstein. It appeared that inspiration could strike anytime, particularly after an individual had worked hard on a problem for days and then turned attention to another activity. In exploring this phenomenon, Hadamard produced one of the most famous and cogent cases for the existence of unconscious mental processes in mathematical invention and other forms of creativity. Written before the explosion of research in computers and cognitive science, his book, originally titled The Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field, remains an important tool for exploring the increasingly complex problem of mental life. The roots of creativity for Hadamard lie not in consciousness, but in the long unconscious work of incubation, and in the unconscious aesthetic selection of ideas that thereby pass into consciousness. His discussion of this process comprises a wide range of topics, including the use of mental images or symbols, visualized or auditory words, "meaningless" words, logic, and intuition. Among the important documents collected is a letter from Albert Einstein analyzing his own mechanism of thought.
Author: David Ruelle
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Release Date: 2018-06-26
The Mathematician's Brain poses a provocative question about the world's most brilliant yet eccentric mathematical minds: were they brilliant because of their eccentricities or in spite of them? In this thought-provoking and entertaining book, David Ruelle, the well-known mathematical physicist who helped create chaos theory, gives us a rare insider's account of the celebrated mathematicians he has known-their quirks, oddities, personal tragedies, bad behavior, descents into madness, tragic ends, and the sublime, inexpressible beauty of their most breathtaking mathematical discoveries. Consider the case of British mathematician Alan Turing. Credited with cracking the German Enigma code during World War II and conceiving of the modern computer, he was convicted of "gross indecency" for a homosexual affair and died in 1954 after eating a cyanide-laced apple--his death was ruled a suicide, though rumors of assassination still linger. Ruelle holds nothing back in his revealing and deeply personal reflections on Turing and other fellow mathematicians, including Alexander Grothendieck, René Thom, Bernhard Riemann, and Felix Klein. But this book is more than a mathematical tell-all. Each chapter examines an important mathematical idea and the visionary minds behind it. Ruelle meaningfully explores the philosophical issues raised by each, offering insights into the truly unique and creative ways mathematicians think and showing how the mathematical setting is most favorable for asking philosophical questions about meaning, beauty, and the nature of reality. The Mathematician's Brain takes you inside the world--and heads--of mathematicians. It's a journey you won't soon forget.
Internationally famous mathematician Ioan James and accomplished psychiatrist Michael Fitzgerald look at the complex world of mathematics and the mind. They discuss mathematics and the arts, savants, gender and mathematical ability, and the impact of autism, personality disorders, and mood disorders.
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING DEBUT FICTION For readers of This Is Where I Leave You and Everything Is Illuminated, “a brilliant and compelling family saga full of warmth, pathos, history and humor” (Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here) When the greatest female mathematician in history passes away, her son, Alexander “Sasha” Karnokovitch, just wants to mourn his mother in peace. But rumor has it the notoriously eccentric Polish émigré has solved one of the most difficult problems in all of mathematics, and has spitefully taken the solution to her grave. As a ragtag group of mathematicians from around the world descends upon Rachela’s shiva, determined to find the proof or solve it for themselves—even if it means prying up the floorboards for notes or desperately scrutinizing the mutterings of her African Grey parrot—Sasha must come to terms with his mother’s outsized influence on his life. Spanning decades and continents, from a crowded living room in Madison, Wisconsin, to the windswept beach on the Barents Sea where a young Rachela had her first mathematical breakthrough, The Mathematician’s Shiva is an unexpectedly moving and uproariously funny novel that captures humanity’s drive not just to survive, but to achieve the impossible.
Author: Steve Batterson
Publisher: American Mathematical Soc.
Release Date: 2000-01-10
In 1957 Stephen Smale startled the mathematical world by showing that, in a theoretical sense, it is possible to turn a sphere inside out. A few years later, from the beaches of Rio, he introduced the horseshoe map, demonstrating that simple functions could have chaotic dynamics. His next stunning mathematical accomplishment was to solve the higher-dimensional Poincare conjecture, thus demonstrating that higher dimensions are simpler than the more familiar three. In 1966 in Moscow, he was awarded the Fields Medal, the most prestigious prize in mathematics. Smale's vision and influence extended beyond mathematics into two vastly different realms. In 1965 in Berkeley, he initiated a program with Jerry Rubin of civil disobedience directed at ending the Vietnam War. And as a mineral collector, he accumulated a museum-quality collection that ranks among the finest in the world. Despite these diverse accomplishments, Smale's name is virtually unknown outside mathematics and mineral collecting. One of the objectives of this book is to bring his life and work to the attention of a larger community. There are few good biographies of mathematicians. This makes sense when considering that to place their lives in perspective requires some appreciation of their theorems. Biographical writers are not usually trained in mathematics, and mathematicians do not usually write biographies. Though the author, Steve Batterson, is primarily a mathematician, he has long been intrigued by the notion of working on a biography of Smale. In this book, Batterson records and makes known the life and accomplishments of this great mathematician and significant figure in intellectual history.
Author: Arild Stubhaug
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
Release Date: 2013-03-09
Sophus Lie (1842-1899) is one of Norways greatest scientific talents. His mathematical works have made him famous around the world no less than Niels Henrik Abel. The terms "Lie groups" and "Lie algebra" are part of the standard mathematical vocabulary. In his comprehensive biography the author Arild Stubhaug introduces us to both the person Sophus Lie and his time. We follow him through: childhood at the vicarage in Nordfjordeid; his youthful years in Moss; education in Christiania; travels in Europe; and learn about his contacts with the leading mathematicians of his time.
Author: Amir D. Aczel
Publisher: Hachette UK
Release Date: 2009-04-29
Nicolas Bourbaki, whose mathematical publications began to appear in the late 1930s and continued to be published through most of the twentieth century, was a direct product as well as a major force behind an important revolution that took place in the early decades of the twentieth century that completely changed Western culture. Pure mathematics, the area of Bourbaki's work, seems on the surface to be an abstract field of human study with no direct connection with the real world. In reality, however, it is closely intertwined with the general culture that surrounds it. Major developments in mathematics have often followed important trends in popular culture; developments in mathematics have acted as harbingers of change in the surrounding human culture. The seeds of change, the beginnings of the revolution that swept the Western world in the early decades of the twentieth century — both in mathematics and in other areas — were sown late in the previous century. This is the story both of Bourbaki and the world that created him in that time. It is the story of an elaborate intellectual joke — because Bourbaki, one of the foremost mathematicians of his day — never existed.
Three very different men struggle with thoughts of belonging, loss, identity and love as they attempt to find a place for themselves in Britain. The Magistrate tries to create new memories and roots, fusing a wandering exploration of Edinburgh with music. The Maestro, a depressed, quixotic character, sinks out of the real world into the fantastic world of literature. The Mathematician, full of youth, follows a carefree, hedonistic lifestyle, until their three universes collide. In this carefully crafted, multi-layered novel, Tendai Huchu, with his inimitable humour, reveals much about the Zimbabwe story as he draws the reader deep into the lives of the three main characters.
Author: Sara N. Hottinger
Publisher: SUNY Press
Release Date: 2016-03-01
Considers how our ideas about mathematics shape our individual and cultural relationship to the field. Where and how do we, as a culture, get our ideas about mathematics and about who can engage with mathematical knowledge? Sara N. Hottinger uses a cultural studies approach to address how our ideas about mathematics shape our individual and cultural relationship to the field. She considers four locations in which representations of mathematics contribute to our cultural understanding of mathematics: mathematics textbooks, the history of mathematics, portraits of mathematicians, and the field of ethnomathematics. Hottinger examines how these discourses shape mathematical subjectivity by limiting the way some groups—including women and people of color—are able to see themselves as practitioners of math. Inventing the Mathematician provides a blueprint for how to engage in a deconstructive project, revealing the limited and problematic nature of the normative construction of mathematical subjectivity.