The Universal History of Numbers: Modern Number System Pt. 2

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9780143032588: The Universal History of Numbers: Modern Number System Pt. 2

"Monumental [and] dazzling. A wonderful gift."— Kirkus Reviews

"Georges Ifrah is the man, and this book, quite simply, rules. . . . It is outstanding . . . a mind–boggling and enriching experience."—Guardian (London)

"Monumental . . . a fascinating journey taking us through many different cultures."—The Times (London)

"Ifrah′s book amazes and fascinates by the scope of its scholarship. It is nothing less than the history of the human race told through figures."—International Herald Tribune

A riveting history of numbers from the time of the cave dwellers to the twentieth century, this landmark international bestseller is the first complete, universal study of the invention and evolution of numbers the world over. Georges Ifrah brings numbers to thrilling life, explaining their development in human terms, the interesting situations that made them necessary, and the brilliant achievements in human thought that they made possible. The reader is taken through the numbers story from Europe to China, via ancient Greece and Rome, Mesopotamia, Latin America, India, and the Arabic countries. Exploring the many ways civilizations developed and changed their mathematical systems, Ifrah imparts a unique insight into the nature of human thought—and into how our understanding of numbers and the ways they shape our lives has changed over thousands of years. The engaging text is illustrated with over 150 figures.

George Ifrah (France) is an independent scholar and former math teacher. He has been called the "Indiana Jones" of numbers.

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Review:

This is an extraordinary book by an extraordinary author. Mathematics teacher Georges Ifrah spent a decade travelling around the world researching the origins of numbers, supporting himself by working as a waiter, taxi-driver and night clerk. The result is The Universal History of Numbers, an impressively detailed account of pretty much every aspect of the emergence and evolution of counting from the Cro-Magnons of 25,000 BC through Babylonian, Greek and Roman times to the metric system and beyond.

Ifrah never misses a chance to include intriguing insights that any reader can appreciate, from how to form cuneiform numbers on wet clay to performing calculations on your fingers--or how to use a Chinese abacus (with details of a 1945 competition between an abacus expert and someone using a calculator; the abacus-user won easily).

Much of this detail may well prove wearisome, however. I for one would have appreciated much less on long-dead number systems, and much more on modern developments in numbers. There is very little coverage of such key issues as irrational and transcendental numbers and nothing at all on the advent of complex, hyperreal or surreal numbers. This is clearly a labour of love, where the blindness of the inamorato is sadly all too apparent. --Robert Matthews

From the Back Cover:

"Georges Ifrah is the man. This book, quite simply, rules. . . . It is outstanding . . . a mind–boggling and enriching experience." –The Guardian (London) "Monumental. . . . a fascinating journey taking us through many different cultures."–The Times (London)"Ifrah’s book amazes and fascinates by the scope of its scholarship. It is nothing less than the history of the human race told through figures." –International Herald Tribune Now in paperback, here is Georges Ifrah’s landmark international bestseller–the first complete, universal study of the invention and evolution of numbers the world over. A riveting history of counting and calculating, from the time of the cave dwellers to the twentieth century, this fascinating volume brings numbers to thrilling life, explaining their development in human terms, the intriguing situations that made them necessary, and the brilliant achievements in human thought that they made possible. It takes us through the numbers story from Europe to China, via ancient Greece and Rome, Mesopotamia, Latin America, India, and the Arabic countries. Exploring the many ways civilizations developed and changed their mathematical systems, Ifrah imparts a unique insight into the nature of human thought–and into how our understanding of numbers and the ways they shape our lives have changed and grown over thousands of years. "Dazzling."–Kirkus Reviews "Sure to transfix readers."–PublishersWeekly

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Georges Ifrah
Published by Penguin Books, New Delhi (2005)
ISBN 10: 0143032585 ISBN 13: 9780143032588
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Vedams eBooks (P) Ltd
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Book Description Penguin Books, New Delhi, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: As New. New. Contents 24. Part I. Indian civilization the cradle of modern numerals. 24. Part II. Dictionary of the numeral symbols of Indian civilisation. 25. Indian numerals and calculation in the Islamic world. 26. The slow progress of Indo Arabic numerals in Western Europe. 27. Beyond perfection. Bibliography. Index of names and subjects. Numbers are one of two creations (the other being the alphabet) of the human spirit which have given us today's world. The three volumes of The Universal History of Numbers are probably the first comprehensive history of numbers and of counting from prehistory to the modern age. They are also the story of how the human race has learnt to think logically. In volume II Georges Ifrah continues the story of the invention of the modern number system by telling us how Indian civilization became the cradle of modern numerals with the invention of the place value system and of zero. Twenty one geographically different Indian numerical notations of the nine numerals and the zero are explained individually with illustrations. A detailed dictionary of Indian numerical symbols recorded alphabetically gives the reader a better idea of the subtle and complicated world of numbers which derived from the genius of Indian mathematicians working in the late middle ages. It was Arab scholars who brought the system to the west. If western mathematical progress today looks dazzling it is because it stands on a solid non western foundation. Amazing captivating and enriching The Universal History of Numbers is a must read not only for specialists and academics but also for the average reader who is interested in the development of civilization. 544 pp. Bookseller Inventory # 54928

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