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Published:October 20th, 2006 04:52 EST
Judyth Piazza chats with John Derbyshire, Author of Unkown Quantity

Judyth Piazza chats with John Derbyshire, Author of Unkown Quantity

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)

 

Here is the story of algebra." With this deceptively simple introduction, we begin our journey. Flanked by formulae, shadowed by roots and radicals, but escorted by an expert who navigates unerringly on our behalf, we are guaranteed safe passage through even the most treacherous mathematical terrain.

Our first encounter with algebraic arithmetic takes us back thirty-eight centuries to the time of Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, Ur and Haran, Sodom and Gomorrah. Moving deftly from Abel`s proof to the higher levels of abstraction developed by Galois, we are eventually introduced to what algebraists have been focusing on during the last century.

As we travel the ages, it becomes apparent that the invention of algebra was more than the start of a specific discipline of mathematics " it was also the birth of a new way of thinking that clarified both basic numeric concepts as well as our perception of the world around us. Algebraists broke new ground when they discarded the simple search for solutions to equations and concentrated instead on abstract groups. This dramatic shift in thinking revolutionized mathematics.

Written for those among us who are unencumbered by a fear of formulae, Unknown Quantity delivers on its promise to present a history of algebra. Astonishing in its bold presentation of the math and graced with narrative authority, our journey through the world of algebra is at once intellectually satisfying and pleasantly challenging.

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