A History in Sum: 150 Years of Mathematics at Harvard, by Shing-Tung Yau, Steve Nadis

By Shing-Tung Yau, Steve Nadis

Within the 20th century, American mathematicians started to make serious advances in a box formerly ruled by way of Europeans. Harvard's arithmetic division used to be on the heart of those advancements. A heritage in Sum is an inviting account of the pioneers who trailblazed a highly American culture of mathematics--in algebraic geometry and topology, advanced research, quantity concept, and a bunch of esoteric subdisciplines that experience infrequently been written approximately outdoor of magazine articles or complex textbooks. The heady mathematical thoughts that emerged, and the boys and girls who formed them, are defined the following in vigorous, available prose.

The tale starts in 1825, while a precocious sixteen-year-old freshman, Benjamin Peirce, arrived on the university. He could develop into the 1st American to supply unique mathematics--an ambition frowned upon in an period while professors principally restricted themselves to instructing. Peirce's successors--William Fogg Osgood and Maxime Bôcher--undertook the duty of reworking the maths division right into a world-class examine middle, attracting to the college such luminaries as George David Birkhoff. Birkhoff produced a blinding physique of labor, whereas education a new release of innovators--students like Marston Morse and Hassler Whitney, who solid novel pathways in topology and different parts. Influential figures from worldwide quickly flocked to Harvard, a few overcoming nice demanding situations to pursue their elected calling.

A heritage in Sum elucidates the contributions of those outstanding minds and makes transparent why the heritage of the Harvard arithmetic division is a necessary a part of the historical past of arithmetic in the United States and beyond.

Editorial Reviews
This ebook tells the story of the way arithmetic built at Harvard--and through extension within the United States--since early days. it truly is packed with interesting tales approximately a number of the mythical names of contemporary arithmetic. either fanatics of arithmetic and readers excited by the background of Harvard will take pleasure in it. (Edward Witten, Professor of Physics, Institute for complex Study)

A background in Sum is a gorgeous tribute to a gorgeous topic, one who illuminates arithmetic in the course of the lens of a few of its such a lot outstanding practitioners. The authors' love of arithmetic shines via each bankruptcy, as they use available and lively language to explain a wealth of heady insights and the all-too-human tales of the minds that chanced on them. there's maybe no greater booklet for immersion into the curious and compelling heritage of mathematical inspiration. (Brian Greene, Professor of arithmetic & Physics, Columbia University)

The publication is written in a leisurely type, the scope is remarkably huge, and the subjects coated are defined astonishingly good. as soon as i began the booklet, I easily couldn't positioned it down and that i was once ecstatic to simply comprehend vital arithmetic faraway from my very own learn pursuits. (Joel Smoller, Professor of arithmetic, college of Michigan)

A heritage in Sum features a wealth of fine tales, tales that visit the center of the improvement of arithmetic during this state. The authors reach humanizing and enlivening what may well rather be a dry therapy of the topic. (Ron Irving, Professor of arithmetic, college of Washington)

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Additional resources for A History in Sum: 150 Years of Mathematics at Harvard, 1825-1975

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It is often said that a mathematician makes his or her most significant contribution early in life—typically by the age of thirty or so. Peirce defied the conventional wisdom in this area, as he did in many other areas, saving his greatest triumph in mathematics until 1870, when he hit the ripe age of sixty-one. That was the year in which he presented his treatise Linear Associative Algebra. Apparently, Peirce had saved the best for last. That is the prevailing judgment of history, and Peirce felt that way as well.

Apparently, Peirce had saved the best for last. That is the prevailing judgment of history, and Peirce felt that way as well. S. ”53 In his dedication to Linear Associative Algebra, Peirce characterized the tract as “the pleasantest mathematical effort of my life. In no other have I seemed to myself to have received so full a reward for my mental labor in the novelty and breadth of the results. I presume that to the uninitiated the formulae will appear cold and cheerless. But let it be remembered that, like other mathematical formulae, they find their origin in the divine source of all geometry.

The story has it that Henry showed Peirce a mathematical problem that his father had been working on. Peirce uncovered an error, which the son brought to his father’s attention. 3 Bowditch moved from Salem to Boston in 1823. , who attended the college and later worked as the school librarian and historian. By the time the younger Peirce arrived on campus, he already had a mentor—not some street-smart upperclassman, but Bowditch himself, who was then a nationally known figure. Hard at work on his Laplace translation at the time, Bowditch enlisted the keen eye and proofreading services of the young Peirce.

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