The Mathematical Experience (Penguin Press Science)

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9780140134742: The Mathematical Experience (Penguin Press Science)
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Winner of the 1983 National Book Award!

"...a perfectly marvelous book about the Queen of Sciences, from which one will get a real feeling for what mathematicians do and who they are. The exposition is clear and full of wit and humor..." - The New Yorker (1983 National Book Award edition)

Mathematics has been a human activity for thousands of years. Yet only a few people from the vast population of users are professional mathematicians, who create, teach, foster, and apply it in a variety of situations. The authors of this book believe that it should be possible for these professional mathematicians to explain to non-professionals what they do, what they say they are doing, and why the world should support them at it. They also believe that mathematics should be taught to non-mathematics majors in such a way as to instill an appreciation of the power and beauty of mathematics. Many people from around the world have told the authors that they have done precisely that with the first edition and they have encouraged publication of this revised edition complete with exercises for helping students to demonstrate their understanding. This edition of the book should find a new generation of general readers and students who would like to know what mathematics is all about. It will prove invaluable as a course text for a general mathematics appreciation course, one in which the student can combine an appreciation for the esthetics with some satisfying and revealing applications.

The text is ideal for 1) a GE course for Liberal Arts students 2) a Capstone course for perspective teachers 3) a writing course for mathematics teachers. A wealth of customizable online course materials for the book can be obtained from Elena Anne Marchisotto (elena.marchisotto@csun.edu) upon request.

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Review:

We tend to think of mathematics as uniquely rigorous, and of mathematicians as supremely smart. In his introduction to The Mathematical Experience, Gian-Carlo Rota notes that instead, "a mathematician's work is mostly a tangle of guesswork, analogy, wishful thinking and frustration, and proof ... is more often than not a way of making sure that our minds are not playing tricks." Philip Davis and Reuben Hersh discuss everything from the nature of proof to the Euclid myth, and mathematical aesthetics to non-Cantorian set theory. They make a convincing case for the idea that mathematics is not about eternal reality, but comprises "true facts about imaginary objects" and belongs among the human sciences.

About the Author:

Phillip J. Davis is professor of applied mathematics at Brown University.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

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