The Mathematical Experience (Penguin Press Science)

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9780140134742: The Mathematical Experience (Penguin Press Science)

This is the classic introduction for the educated lay reader to the richly diverse world of mathematics: its history, philosophy, principles, and personalities.

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Review:

We tend to think of mathematics as uniquely rigorous, and of mathematicians as supremely smart. In his introduction to The Mathematical Experience, Gian-Carlo Rota notes 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.

About the Author:

Phillip J. Davis is professor of applied mathematics at Brown University.

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