An informal and readable introduction to higher algebra at the post-calculus level. The concepts of ring and field are introduced through study of the familiar examples of the integers and polynomials, with much emphasis placed on congruence classes leading the way to finite groups and finite fields. New examples and theory are integrated in a well-motivated fashion and made relevant by many applications -- to cryptography, coding, integration, history of mathematics, and especially to elementary and computational number theory. The later chapters include expositions of Rabiin's probabilistic primality test, quadratic reciprocity, and the classification of finite fields. Over 900 exercises, ranging from routine examples to extensions of theory, are scattered throughout the book, with hints and answers for many of them included in an appendix.

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This book is an informal and readable introduction to higher algebra at the post-calculus level. The concepts of ring and field are introduced through study of the familiar examples of the integers and polynomials. A strong emphasis on congruence classes leads in a natural way to finite groups and finite fields. The new examples and theory are built in a well-motivated fashion and made relevant by many applications - to cryptography, error correction, integration, and especially to elementary and computational number theory. The later chapters include expositions of Rabin's probabilistic primality test, quadratic reciprocity, the classification of finite fields, and factoring polynomials over the integers. Over 1000 exercises, ranging from routine examples to extensions of theory, are found throughout the book; hints and answers for many of them are included in an appendix.

The new edition includes topics such as Luhn's formula, Karatsuba multiplication, quotient groups and homomorphisms, Blum-Blum-Shub pseudorandom numbers, root bounds for polynomials, Montgomery multiplication, and more.

"At every stage, a wide variety of applications is presented...The user-friendly exposition is appropriate for the intended audience"

- T.W. Hungerford, Mathematical Reviews

"The style is leisurely and informal, a guided tour through the foothills, the guide unable to resist numerous side paths and return visits to favorite spots..."

- Michael Rosen, American Mathematical Monthly

From the reviews:

"The user-friendly exposition is appropriate for the intended audience. Exercises often appear in the text at the point they are relevant, as well as at the end of the section or chapter. Hints for selected exercises are given at the end of the book. There is sufficient material for a two-semester course and various suggestions for one-semester courses are provided. Although the overall organization remains the same in the second edition¿Changes include the following: greater emphasis on finite groups, more explicit use of homomorphisms, increased use of the Chinese remainder theorem, coverage of cubic and quartic polynomial equations, and applications which use the discrete Fourier transform." MATHEMATICAL REVIEWS

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