The Irrationals by Julian Havil
A Story of the Numbers You Can't Count On

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From the beautiful cover illustration—a cross-sectioned nautilus shell annotated by square roots—one expects something superficial...Surprise! The Irrationals is a true mathematician’s and historian’s delight, not just another pretty book.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

The ancient Greeks discovered them, but it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that irrational numbers were properly understood and rigorously defined, and even today not all their mysteries have been revealed. In The Irrationals, the first popular and comprehensive book on the subject, Julian Havil tells the story of irrational numbers and the mathematicians who have tackled their challenges, from antiquity to the twenty-first century. Along the way, he explains why irrational numbers are surprisingly difficult to define—and why so many questions still surround them. Fascinating and illuminating, this is a book for everyone who loves math and the history behind it.

 

About Julian Havil

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Julian Havil is a former master at Winchester College, England, where he taught mathematics for thirty-three years. He received a Ph.D. in mathematics from Oxford University. Freeman Dyson is professor emeritus of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is the author of several books, including "Disturbing the Universe" and "Origins of Life".
 
Published July 22, 2012 by Princeton University Press. 312 pages
Genres: Science & Math, Professional & Technical, History, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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NY Journal of Books

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Reviewed by Robert Schaefer on Jul 22 2012

From the beautiful cover illustration—a cross-sectioned nautilus shell annotated by square roots—one expects something superficial...Surprise! The Irrationals is a true mathematician’s and historian’s delight, not just another pretty book.

Read Full Review of The Irrationals: A Story of t... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

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