Visions of Infinity
The Great Mathematical Problems
By Ian Stewart
(Basic Books, Hardcover, 9780465022403, 320pp.)
Publication Date: February 2013
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For every problem mathematicians solve, another waits to perplex and galvanize them. Such challenges offer a tantalizing glimpse of the field’s unlimited potential, and keep mathematicians looking toward the horizons of intellectual possibility. In Visions of Infinity, celebrated mathematician Ian Stewart explains why these problems exist, what drives mathematicians to solve them, and why their efforts matter in the context of science as a whole. Stewart describes solved problemslike Fermat’s Last Theorem, proved three centuries after it was posited, and the Poincaré Conjecture, cracked by eccentric genius Grigori Perelmanas well as those like the P/NP problem, which could easily remain unproved for another hundred years.
An approachable and illuminating history of mathematics as told through fourteen of its greatest problems, Visions of Infinity reveals how mathematicians the world over have risen to meet the challenges set by their predecessorsand how the enigmas of the past inevitably surrender to the powerful techniques of the present.
Ian Stewart is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics and active researcher at the University of Warwick. The author of many books on mathematics, he lives in Coventry, England.