6
$\begingroup$

I read many of Richard Fenynman's books and I found them both very entertaining and moving, showing the human side of a brilliant scientific mind. I recently read also a collection of P.A.M. Dirac's writings on the topic of beauty and mathematical truth. I personally find that reading good non-technical books about personal histories, biographies, ways of conceiving the universe written by great scientists is always very enlightening. Feynman and Dirac represent (mostly) a physic's point of view, so I'd be interested in reading some thoughts from great mathematicians.

So my question is: could you please suggest good books of this kind? The constraints are the following:

  • the author is a great mathematician (universally acknowledged as such)
  • the book/writing is not a paper, i.e. it's not a technical essay on some of the author's research;
  • the main topic of the book/writing is the author's world view, philosophical thoughts, considerations about mathematics et similia.

An example of such a book could be Science et Hypothèse by Henri Poincaré.

$\endgroup$
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ A Mathematician's Apology, G. H. Hardy. $\endgroup$ – David Mitra Oct 26 '14 at 13:43
  • $\begingroup$ Relativity by Albert Einstein. $\endgroup$ – DanielV Oct 26 '14 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ Actually I am realizing that this question can have only good multiple answers. Do you think that it should be turned into Community Wiki? Or does it have drawbacks for the answerers in terms of reputation loss? $\endgroup$ – marco trevi Oct 27 '14 at 7:46
  • $\begingroup$ Wiki hammered because big-list and OP request. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Oct 27 '14 at 13:49
5
$\begingroup$

Indiscrete Thoughts by Gian-Carlo Rota.

I Want to be a Mathematician: An Automathography by Halmos.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method by George Pólya fits the bill perfectly. Not only is the author a first-rank mathematician, the work is also philosophical, mathematical and above all practical at the same time. A rare combination indeed!

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Serge Lang has written a large number of books. The ones satisfying the above requirements contain the following:

  • The beauty of doing mathematics (1985)
  • Math!: Encounters with high school students (1985)
  • Challenges (1997)

There is also a very good book by David Hilbert, "Natur und mathematisches Erkennen" (german title), but I don't know whether there exists a translation into english.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Enigmas of Chance by Mark Kac, perhaps?

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Bertrand Russell was a philosopher in addition to being a mathematician. He wrote a rather famous book, A History of Western Philosophy in which he presents a historical account of Western Philosophy. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his lifetime of writings.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.