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On October 23, 1852, Professor Augustus De Morgan wrote a letter to a colleague, unaware that he was launching one of the most famous mathematical conundrums in history--one that would confound thousands of puzzlers for more than a century. This is the amazing story of how the "map problem" was solved.
The problem posed in the letter came from a former student: What is the least possible number of colors needed to fill in any map (real or invented) so that neighboring counties are always colored differently? This deceptively simple question was of minimal interest to cartographers, who saw little need to limit how many colors they used. But the problem set off a frenzy among professional mathematicians and amateur problem solvers, among them Lewis Carroll, an astronomer, a botanist, an obsessive golfer, the Bishop of London, a man who set his watch only once a year, a California traffic cop, and a bridegroom who spent his honeymoon coloring maps. In their pursuit of the solution, mathematicians painted maps on doughnuts and horseshoes and played with patterned soccer balls and the great rhombicuboctahedron.
It would be more than one hundred years (and countless colored maps) later before the result was finally established. Even then, difficult questions remained, and the intricate solution--which involved no fewer than 1,200 hours of computer time--was greeted with as much dismay as enthusiasm.
Providing a clear and elegant explanation of the problem and the proof, Robin Wilson tells how a seemingly innocuous question baffled great minds and stimulated exciting mathematics with far-flung applications. This is the entertaining story of those who failed to prove, and those who ultimately did prove, that four colors do indeed suffice to color any map.
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"I loved Robin Wilson's book on the four color problem, because it gives the history as well as the arguments. The history is presented so entertainingly, and the arguments so lucidly, that I'm sure the book will find a large audience, and delight any audience as much as it did me."--John Conway
"An intriguing historical account of one of the most baffling enigmas in mathematics: the Four Color Theorem. Robin Wilson provides fascinating insights into how mathematicians think, and shows that questions that are simple to ask may not be simple to answer."--Ian Stewart
"Robin Wilson has combined a complete history of the approach that led to the solution of the four color problem with a description of the techniques involved that can be read with pleasure and comprehension by undergraduates as well as professional mathematicians."--Kenneth Appel, University of New Hampshire
Robin Wilson is Head of the Pure Mathematics Department at the Open University and Fellow of Keble College, Oxford University. He is Gresham Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, London, and is a frequent visitor to Colorado College. He has written and edited about 25 books on topics ranging from graph theory via philately, to the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, to the history of mathematics.
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Book Description Princeton University Press, 2002. Condition: Very Good. 1ST. Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. Seller Inventory # GRP32598341
Book Description Paperback. Condition: Good. The book has been read but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact and the cover is intact. Some minor wear to the spine. Seller Inventory # GOR001856034
Book Description Paperback. Condition: Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. Seller Inventory # GOR001370623
Book Description -. Hardcover. Condition: Very Good. Four Colours Suffice: How the Map Problem Was Solved (Allen Lane Science) This book is in very good condition and will be shipped within 24 hours of ordering. The cover may have some limited signs of wear but the pages are clean, intact and the spine remains undamaged. This book has clearly been well maintained and looked after thus far. Money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. See all our books here, order more than 1 book and get discounted shipping. Seller Inventory # 7719-9780713996708
Book Description Allen Lane 07/11/2002, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: Very Good. Shipped within 24 hours from our UK warehouse. Clean, undamaged book with no damage to pages and minimal wear to the cover. Spine still tight, in very good condition. Remember if you are not happy, you are covered by our 100% money back guarantee. Seller Inventory # 6545-9780713996708
Book Description Allen Lane, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: Used; Good. **SHIPPED FROM UK** We believe you will be completely satisfied with our quick and reliable service. All orders are dispatched as swiftly as possible! Buy with confidence!. Seller Inventory # mon0000423047
Book Description Penguin Group, London, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: very good. Third printing. spine slightly rolled. Seller Inventory # 500043294
Book Description Allan Lane, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Good. 262 pp, index, illustrations. Dj a bit dusty, edgewear. Boards have light edgewear. Remainder mark to bottom edge. Interior is clean and tight. Seller Inventory # 008981