Mathematics: The New Golden Age
By Keith Devlin
Review by Josh (Mathematics)
I think one of the greatest drawbacks of maths at school is that you barely get to scratch the surface of the vast range of areas and applications that it influences. In Year 12, when I was trying to work out which subject to apply for, I came across this book and my whole perspective of maths and studying it completely changed.
In Mathematics: The New Golden Age, Keith Devlin takes us on a whistle-stop tour of some of the most famous and fascinating areas of maths. He then explains a little about how they developed and how their discovery affected maths as we know it, in an easy-to-read but also detailed and clear manner.
Devlin covers a broad range of applied and pure areas ranging from Set Theory to Topology and from Groups to Chaos Theory. He also takes us through some of the most interesting and challenging problems, such as Fermat’s “Last Theorem”, Hilbert’s “Tenth Problem” and “The Four Colour Problem”, encountered throughout the history of maths and digs a little into why they matter. We get a glimpse of the work of some of the most talented mathematicians of all time, such as Gauss, Riemann, Gödel, Hardy and, of course, Oxford’s very own Andrew Wiles. We get a flavour of how they set about tackling the greatest problems of their time and of the influence they had on the future of mathematics. Devlin also gives us the chance to explore further any of the topics he covers by including recommendations for further reading at the end of each chapter. The chapters provide great, thorough introductions into the topics of interest.
For me, this book provided a great introduction into what maths at university, and even beyond, looks like, and gave me a fresh excitement for the subject, which I realised was so much more than the limited calculus and trigonometry that we get to study at school.
Mathematics: The New Golden Age by Keith Devlin
ISBN-10 : 0140258655
ISBN-13 : 978-0140258653
Try checking the availability of this book at your school or local library or explore second hand bookshops and websites. You may also wish to purchase from either Amazon or Blackwell’s.