Recent Revolution in Mathematics

Recent Revolutions in Mathematics
by Albert Stwertka

(Illus., a Science Impact Book)
Franklin Watts Inc.
Glossary; Index
C, P, GA *


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A survey (under any title) of mathematical ideas expounded at a level appropriate to that "elusive creature," the intelligent lay person, is welcome. As such a survey this brief book does its job well even though its title is misleading. Early chapters are devoted to 19th century mathematics, whose routine application has recently revolutionized other areas; middle chapters cover recent developments and applications in old, even ancient, areas of mathematics; and later chapters discuss some genuinely new mathematics that may some day prove to be revolutionary. In this last category are such advances as catastrophe theory, fractal geometry and the Karmarkar algorithm for linear programming. The book also includes (at least partial) descriptions of some mathematical problems that have been recently solved, such as the four-color problem, the Mordell conjecture, and the classification of finite simple groups. Although the title may be an overstatement of the contents, the book itself presents intelligible, nontechnical descriptions of currently active areas of mathematics and its applications. As such, it should satisfy the curiosity of some and stimulate the curiosity of others.

--Reviewed by Richard Laatsch in Science Books and Films, 23/5 (May/June 1988), p. 280.