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In this delightful new book, Robert Kaplan, writing together with his wife Ellen Kaplan, once again takes us on a witty, literate, and accessible tour of the world of mathematics. Where The Nothing That Is looked at math through the lens of zero, The Art of the Infinite takes infinity, in its
countless guises, as a touchstone for understanding mathematical thinking. Tracing a path from Pythagoras, whose great Theorem led inexorably to a discovery that his followers tried in vain to keep secret (the existence of irrational numbers); through Descartes and Leibniz; to the brilliant, haunted
Georg Cantor, who proved that infinity can come in different sizes, the Kaplans show how the attempt to grasp the ungraspable embodies the essence of mathematics. The Kaplans guide us through the "Republic of Numbers," where we meet both its upstanding citizens and more shadowy dwellers; and we
travel across the plane of geometry into the unlikely realm where parallel lines meet. Along the way, deft character studies of great mathematicians (and equally colorful lesser ones) illustrate the opposed yet intertwined modes of mathematical thinking: the intutionist notion that we discover
mathematical truth as it exists, and the formalist belief that math is true because we invent consistent rules for it.
"Less than All," wrote William Blake, "cannot satisfy Man." The Art of the Infinite shows us some of the ways that Man has grappled with All, and reveals mathematics as one of the most exhilarating expressions of the human imagination.
Author: Robert Kaplan, Ellen Kaplan
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Binding Type: Hardcover
Size: 9.60h x 6.34w x 1.17d
Library Journal 04/01/2003 pg. 124
Booklist 04/15/2003 pg. 1436
School Library Journal 08/01/2003 pg. 189
Scitech Book News 12/01/2004 pg. 38
Publishers Weekly 04/01/2003
School Library Journal 10/01/2004
About the Author
Robert and Ellen Kaplan are the founders of The Math Circle, a school, open to anyone of any age, that teaches the enjoyment of mathematics. They have been invited to lecture on mathematics teaching and the Math Circle to organizations such as the American Mathematical Society and universities in Spain and Switzerland. They live in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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