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I have no problem with Elements of Algebra simply because of its age; in fact, I strongly agree with Abel's famous assertion regarding the proper place to look for knowledge.

What do you guys think about Elements of Algebra, in particular, and texts covering similar material in general?

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This strikes me as being very subjective and open for this forum. – mixedmath Apr 25 '11 at 5:40
What's wrong with a subjective question about a mathematics book that directly relates to the history of mathematics, a question of the sort "welcomed" (as the third bullet point in the introductory portion of the faq will tell you)? Considering the fact that threads discussing the question of reading from the "masters" are welcomed on MathOverflow I think a question discussing this, "and texts covering similar material in general" should be welcomed & not modded out of history... – sponsoredwalk Apr 25 '11 at 6:50
@mixedmath, my question is mainly about a specific text by a specific author (and what an author he was!). Is a question "very subjective and open" because there is less of a chance that you can reply using LaTeX? If you know nothing of the book I mention, and are uninterested, then you are free to ignore the question. :) – Faustus Apr 25 '11 at 8:11
I didn't say that this question was wrong for this forum, simply that it was poorly suited for this forum. In short, it is a discussion question, and this is not a discussion forum (@sponsoredwalk similarly found within the faq). Note also that I am not closing it, attempting to close it, or encouraging others to close it. – mixedmath Apr 25 '11 at 8:28
@mixedmath, well, I'll be able to ask much more localised questions as I progress mathematically. At this point in time, I want perspectives on the materials I'm looking into, so as to not waste any time :) "look before you leap" sort of thing. – Faustus Apr 25 '11 at 8:52
up vote 1 down vote accepted

short answer: read euler. E.g. would you recommend reading Shakespeare's Hamlet, or the Classics comics version?

I think Euler is probably the best introductory algebra book in existence. I would recommend it for all gifted high school students.

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Disagree. Old mathematics texts are often "boring". Try reading papers of Lagrange in Number Theory before Gauss, or Descartes' La Geometrie. – Yuval Filmus May 19 '11 at 5:39
Have you tried reading Euler? – roy smith Aug 2 '11 at 5:07
Your analogy is flawed. (E.g. would you recommend reading Shakespeare's Hamlet, or Dickens's Bleak House, or Joyce's Ulysses, or Chaucer's Canterbury Tales? Time is limited, and it depends on the reader.) Yes classics are good to read, and Euler is great, but one can't read them all. Why not read Al-Khwarizmi's Kitab al-Jabr… or Chrystal's Algebra or Bhaskara's Bijaganita or Diophantus's Arithmetica, other classics on algebra? Or read Euler's classic Introductio… instead? Etc. :) An author may be great but whether a specific book is worth reading is not a foregone conclusion. – ShreevatsaR Aug 2 '11 at 5:56

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