Mathematics Without Apologies: Portrait of a Problematic Vocation


Product Details

$29.95  $27.55
Princeton University Press
Publish Date
6.4 X 1.3 X 9.5 inches | 1.7 pounds

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About the Author

Michael Harris is professor of mathematics at the Universitรฉ Paris Diderot and Columbia University. He is the author or coauthor of more than seventy mathematical books and articles, and has received a number of prizes, including the Clay Research Award, which he shared in 2007 with Richard Taylor.


Winner of the 2016 PROSE Award in Mathematics, Association of American Publishers
Mathematics without Apologies . . . provide[s] an unmatched perspective on life in this 'problematic vocation' . . . a kaleidoscope of philosophical, sociological, historical and literary perspectives on what mathematicians do, and why.---Amir Alexander, Nature
[A] wry and insightful look at what being a pure mathematician is all about, as seen from the inside.---Steven Strogatz, Physics Today
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2015
Michael Harris is among the foremost mathematicians in the world.---John J. Watkins, Mathematical Intelligencer
Harris is the kind of mathematician one hopes to meet at an intimate dinner party. . . . Recommended for curious readers in any subject wishing to answer problems in creative ways.-- "Library Journal"
Even apprentice number theorists can understand and enjoy this well-written book. Harris's theories are coherent and rational, and he provides lay readers clarity into what contemporary mathematicians really do.---Bernadette Trainer, Mathematics Teacher-- "Library Journal"
The erudition displayed by Harris in this book is amazing. . . . The satisfaction it gives is more than rewarding.---A. Bultheel, Adhemar Bultheel Blog, -- "Library Journal"
Michael Harris is more than a mathematician; he is a Parisian intellectual.---Brendan Larvor, London Mathematical Society Newsletter-- "Library Journal"
This extraordinary, extravagant Apologia pro Vita Sua--the title more deliberately echoes G. H. Hardy's renowned 1940 memoir A Mathematician's Apology--heads off in many directions and is all the more admirable for it. The book is part memoir, part account of the arcane research that brought number theorist Harris a measure of fame, and part sociological/economic study of academic mathematics. Together with interspersed chapters amusingly titled 'How to Explain Number Theory at a Dinner Party, ' the work offers erudition, panache, and an intriguing authorial voice. . . . A book to be read and then read again.-- "Choice"
If you are interested at all in what mathematics really is and what the best mathematicians really do (and you're up for an intellectual challenge), I highly recommend that you get a copy and set some time aside for delving into this unusual book. . . . Harris manages to move back and forth between the deepest ideas about mathematics at the frontiers of the subject, insightful takes on the sociology of mathematical research, and a variety of topics pursued in a sometimes gonzo version of post-modern academic style. You will surely sometimes be baffled, but definitely will come away knowing about many things you'd never heard of before, and with a lot of new ideas to think about.---Peter Woit, Not Even Wrong-- "Choice"
This book is a rich tapestry interweaving various aspects of culture and tradition--social, economic, religious, aesthetic--in an attempt to explicate the three basic philosophical questions underlying mathematics as a human endeavor: the What, Why and How of it.---Swami Vidyanathananda, Prabuddha Bharata-- "Choice"