Sunday, November 26, 2017

Ian Stewart

Ian Stewart's newest book is Significant Figures: The Lives and Work of Great Mathematicians. From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for this new book, and how did you pick the mathematicians to include?

A: The idea emerged during a lunch with my editor John Davey, who died recently of throat cancer -- the book is dedicated to him. We often used to bat ideas around to see if anything grabbed us.

Selecting whom to include was tricky. The typical length for a popular science book is at most 100,000 words. The publisher set a target of 90,000, later expanded to 95,000.

So I knew I could include at most 25 people. That’s far too small to cover every really important mathematician! I say explicitly early on that the people featured are a selection. I made an initial list of about 50, and then whittled it down.

I decided that someone got in only if their mathematics was top quality and highly influential, if their personal story was interesting in its own right, and if they were dead. I considered it absolutely vital to include...[read on]
See Ian Stewart's top ten popular mathematics books.

The Page 99 Test: Why Beauty Is Truth.

The Page 99 Test: In Pursuit of the Unknown.

The Page 99 Test: Visions of Infinity.

--Marshal Zeringue