Request Inspection Copy

If you are an Academic or Teacher and wish to consider this book as a prescribed textbook for your course, you may be eligible for a complimentary inspection copy. Please complete this form, including information about your position, campus and course, before adding to cart.

* Required Fields

To complete your Inspection Copy Request you will need to click the Checkout button in the right margin and complete the checkout formalities. You can include Inspection Copies and purchased items in the same shopping cart, see our Inspection Copy terms for further information.

Any Questions? Please email our text Support Team on text@footprint.com.au

Submit

Email this to a friend

* ALL required Fields

Order Inspection Copy

An inspection copy has been added to your shopping cart

Tales of Impossibility: The 2000-Year Quest to Solve the Mathematical Problems of Antiquity

by David S. Richeson Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
10/2019
ISBN:
9780691192963
Format:
Hbk 456 pages
Price:
AU$59.99 NZ$63.47
Product Status: Available in Approx 7 days
add to your cart
A comprehensive look at four of the most famous problems in mathematics


 


Tales of Impossibility recounts the intriguing story of the renowned problems of antiquity, four of the most famous and studied questions in the history of mathematics. First posed by the ancient Greeks, these compass and straightedge problems—squaring the circle, trisecting an angle, doubling the cube, and inscribing regular polygons in a circle—have served as ever-present muses for mathematicians for more than two millennia. David Richeson follows the trail of these problems to show that ultimately their proofs—demonstrating the impossibility of solving them using only a compass and straightedge—depended on and resulted in the growth of mathematics.


 


Richeson investigates how celebrated luminaries, including Euclid, Archimedes, Viète, Descartes, Newton, and Gauss, labored to understand these problems and how many major mathematical discoveries were related to their explorations. Although the problems were based in geometry, their resolutions were not, and had to wait until the nineteenth century, when mathematicians had developed the theory of real and complex numbers, analytic geometry, algebra, and calculus. Pierre Wantzel, a little-known mathematician, and Ferdinand von Lindemann, through his work on pi, finally determined the problems were impossible to solve. Along the way, Richeson provides entertaining anecdotes connected to the problems, such as how the Indiana state legislature passed a bill setting an incorrect value for pi and how Leonardo da Vinci made elegant contributions in his own study of these problems.


 


Taking readers from the classical period to the present, Tales of Impossibility chronicles how four unsolvable problems have captivated mathematical thinking for centuries.


 

"Tying together Lincoln, Napoleon, dramatic duels, and amazing intellectual achievements spanning more than two millenia, Tales of Impossibility presents a terrific story. Even while unfolding some of the oldest and most familiar logical challenges, Richeson uncovers intriguing ideas and details that will be new to all readers, even the most mathematically experienced."'Glen Whitney, founder of the National Museum of Mathematics
David S. Richeson is professor of mathematics at Dickinson College and editor of Math Horizons. He is the author of Euler's Gem: The Polyhedron Formula and the Birth of Topology (Princeton). Twitter @divbyzero