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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bad Title for a Good Book?

Is God a Mathematician? by Mario Livio

Is God a Mathematician?     I enjoyed this book, though it was not the book I thought it would be.  Mario Livio tackles the question whether humans discovered or invented mathematics by tracing the history of mathematics from Pythagerous (ca.597-472 BC) to near present day.  It is an incredible trip with Livio's excellent summarizations, connections, and explanations.  I found it fascinating to learn how certain concepts came about, which mathematicians agreed and disagreed, and how religiously some people took mathematics.  In the last chapter, Livio takes the evidence from the history of mathematics and adds his own opinion on the debate between discovery and invention.  He ends with the indecisive explanation that it is some of both.  Well, I guess if that's how you really feel.  I was looking for something a little more definitive after going through the book, but the history lesson was worth the wishy-washy stance at the end.

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