The Universal History of Numbers: Computer and the Information Revolution Pt. 3

9780143032595: The Universal History of Numbers: Computer and the Information Revolution Pt. 3

"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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In this volume, which completes his history of numbers, Georges Ifrah first of all recapitulates for the reader the steps in mathematical notation which he has made familiar. He considers algebra and its relationship with reason; how it has opened the way to new advances in computation. He introduces the reader to the departure made from the decimal Base 10 to the spread of the binary Base 2, the foundation for computing. He then takes us through the origins and progress of the computer revolution, going back to calculating machines invented more than 100 years ago. He finishes with a synthesis of the development of numbers technology as a function of logic, and concludes with a view to our future with technology.


For those of you who have read Georges Ifrah's first book, The Universal History of Numbers: From Prehistory to the Invention of the Computer, this is the third of a two-volume set! Just to clarify this, the first volume is being split into two and, together with this new third volume, republished as a trilogy. For those of you who have not read the first book, volume III begins with what could have been a very useful "Chronological Summary" and a "Recapitulation" of the ideas expressed in the first book. Unfortunately, without a preface or introduction, the unwary reader is immediately confronted with a very condensed version of the first book. Indeed, Ifrah's detailed study of number systems, when reduced to a series of illustrated plates, gives the impression that the history of numbers is little more than a history of typography. Yet another "Chronological Summary" from Calculation to Calculus follows, thereby reinforcing the feeling that the book is a collection of notes waiting to be crafted into a strong narrative. The translator, the unsung hero in many publications, has done sterling work in adding copious notes and helpful cross-references. The initial feeling remains, however, that this is a collection of jewels without a crown.

Having said that, the scope of the book is enormous, tracing the history of calculators and computers, from mechanical to electronic devices through both analogue and digital incarnations. There are some familiar faces, such as Pascal, Babbage, von Neumann and Turing, as well as many others who have so far escaped the spotlight. As a reference work it has a good index and an extensive bibliography. The author acknowledges regret at the lack of illustrations but gives references to such sources. In the search for universality and completeness it has, however, forsaken a strong guiding theme. The most engaging sections are where the mathematics, history and technology come together, bound by personal ambitions, whether intellectual or financial. In such sections Ifrah pauses from being a cataloguer to indulge in some story telling. It is here that the nuts and bolts of technology come to life. For teachers, students and researchers, this will prove to be a very useful starting point into a fascinating area of human innovation. But one would venture that this is a work destined for the library shelves rather than the bedside table. --Richard Mankiewicz

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Georges Ifrah
Published by Penguin Books India (2005)
ISBN 10: 0143032593 ISBN 13: 9780143032595
Used Softcover Quantity Available: 1
Anybook Ltd.
(Lincoln, United Kingdom)

Book Description Penguin Books India, 2005. Book Condition: Good. Volumes 1 - 3. This is an ex-library book and may have the usual library/used-book markings inside.This book has soft covers. In good all round condition. Bookseller Inventory # 4706243

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