Age Range: 10 & up
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 The Global Profiles series gets underway with this engaging introduction to some ideas in modern mathematics by way of 13 biographies, covering Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace, George Boole, Georg Cantor, Sophia Kovalevsky, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Emmy Noether, Shiing-Shen Chern, Alan Turing, Stanislaw Ulam, Benoit Mandelbrot, Julia Bowman Robinson, and John Conway. Almost all of the figures chosen are associated with a discovery that can be reduced to an elementary point, explained in a clear and attractive way. Readers come away from each chapter not only with a name, but with an idea, with one exception: In the chapter on Cantor, readers are deprived of the explanation that an infinity of real numbers is not countable because it contains ``irrational numbers'' like the square root of two. Henderson (Stephen Hawking, 1994, not reviewed, etc.) makes clear from the outset that this is a sampler, intended to be inclusive in terms of gender, nationality, specialization, or an association with a particular discovery. As it turns out, however, this affirmative-action organization works nicely: Many of the biggest names and ideas of modern mathematics are introduced indirectly, enabling Henderson to cover a lot of ground in a relatively accessible manner. (b&w illustrations, bibliography, chronology, index) (Nonfiction. 10+)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-8160-3235-1
Page count: 130pp
Publisher: Facts On File
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1995