Mathematical Resources

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What are some nonfiction books about mathematicians?

The following books are just a sampling of those available about the lives of mathematicians:

A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash by Sylvia Nasar (Simon & Schuster, 2001; ISBN: 0743224574)—The fascinating biography of John Nash, the mathematical genius who descended into schizophrenia for decades, losing his sanity, career, and wife. He ultimately recovered from this illness, and was subsequently awarded the Nobel Prize for his early work. There was also a movie adaptation of this book (see below).

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth by Paul Hoffman (Hyperion, 1999; ISBN: 0786884061)—The story of a mathematician who had no home, no wife, and no life other than numbers. Living out of two suitcases for more than 60 years, Erdos passionately chased mathematical problems over four continents, thinking and working for 19 hours per day, while interacting with the leading scientists of his day.

Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel by Rebecca Goldstein (W. W. Norton & Company, 2005; ISBN: 0393051692)—This book explores the remarkable theorem of incompleteness and the eccentric genius behind its discovery, Kurt Gödel.

The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci’s Arithmetic Revolution by Keith Devlin (Walker, 2011; ISBN: 0802778127). This is the story of Fibonacci (a.k.a. Leonardo of Pisa) the 13th-century mathematician who published Liber abbaci (Book of Calculation) in 1202, which introduced the numbers 0 to 9 to Europe—the Hindu-Arabic numbering system we’re all familiar with today.

How Mathematicians Think: Using Ambiguity, Contradiction, and Paradox to Create Mathematics by William Byers (Princeton University Press, 2010; ISBN: 9780691145990). This book by a mathematician presents readers with the human part of mathematics, including how such people think and create through their world of numbers.

Fascinating Mathematical People: Interviews and Memoirs, edited by Donald J. Albers and Gerald L. Alexanderson (Princeton, 2011; ISBN: 0691148295). This book highlights how, over time and in their own words, various major research mathematicians advanced the field of mathematics.


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