Shah, Tanuj
(2016)
A review of
taming
the infinite.
At Right Angles, 5 (1).
ISSN 25821873
Abstract
At some point students begin to show interest in the origins
of mathematical ideas: How were logarithms discovered?
Who was the first person to compute the log tables?
When were quadratic equations first used, and how were they
solved? Can equations of a higher order be solved in a similar
way? Why are representations of complex numbers on a plane
called Argand diagrams? Ian Stewart’s book Taming the Infinite:
The Story of Mathematics from the First Numbers to Chaos Theory
throws light on questions like these. It is an attempt at mapping
the major themes in mathematics through a historical perspective.
This compact book of less than 400 pages covers the major
topics in Mathematics and is accessible to students in secondary
school. The latter part of the book gives a flavour of some areas
of college mathematics. An underlying theme of the book is that
the modern world owes a great debt to advances in Mathematics,
and mention is made of some of the applications of Mathematics.
Brief biographical sketches of the major players are given, though
there are some odd omissions like Euler and Leibniz.
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