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Mathematics under the Microscope: Notes on Cognitive Aspects of Mathematical Practice
 
Alexandre V. Borovik University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Front Cover for Mathematics under the Microscope
HardcoverISBN:  978-0-8218-4761-9
Product Code:  MBK/71
List Price: $66.00
MAA Member Price: $59.40
AMS Member Price: $52.80
eBookISBN:  978-1-4704-1604-1
Product Code:  MBK/71.E
List Price: $62.00
MAA Member Price: $55.80
AMS Member Price: $49.60
HardcoverISBN:  978-0-8218-4761-9
eBookISBN:  978-1-4704-1604-1
Product Code:  MBK/71.B
List Price: $128.00$97.00
MAA Member Price: $115.20$87.30
AMS Member Price: $102.40$77.60
Front Cover for Mathematics under the Microscope
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  • Front Cover for Mathematics under the Microscope
  • Back Cover for Mathematics under the Microscope
Mathematics under the Microscope: Notes on Cognitive Aspects of Mathematical Practice
Alexandre V. Borovik University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Hardcover ISBN:  978-0-8218-4761-9
Product Code:  MBK/71
List Price: $66.00
MAA Member Price: $59.40
AMS Member Price: $52.80
eBook ISBN:  978-1-4704-1604-1
Product Code:  MBK/71.E
List Price: $62.00
MAA Member Price: $55.80
AMS Member Price: $49.60
Hardcover ISBN:  978-0-8218-4761-9
eBookISBN:  978-1-4704-1604-1
Product Code:  MBK/71.B
List Price: $128.00$97.00
MAA Member Price: $115.20$87.30
AMS Member Price: $102.40$77.60
  • Book Details
     
     
    2010; 317 pp
    MSC: Primary 00; 97;

    This is an unusual and unusually fascinating book.

    Readers who never thought about mathematics after their school years will be amazed to discover how many habits of mind, ideas, and even material objects that are inherently mathematical serve as building blocks of our civilization and everyday life.

    A professional mathematician, reluctantly breaking the daily routine, or pondering on some resisting problem, will open this book and enjoy a sudden return to his or her young days when mathematics was fresh, exciting, and holding all promises.

    And do not take the word “microscope” in the title too literally: in fact, the author looks around, in time and space, focusing in turn on a tremendous variety of motives, from mathematical “memes” (genes of culture) to an unusual life of a Hollywood star.

    Yuri I. Manin, Max-Planck Institute of Mathematics, Bonn, and Northwestern University

    It is an unusual book that casts new and paradoxical light on the nature of mathematics.

    This book will be interesting—perhaps for different reasons—to school teachers of mathematics, to math majors at universities, to graduate students in mathematics and computer science, to research mathematicians and computer scientists, to philosophers and historians of mathematics, and to psychologists and neurophysiologists.

    The author's goal is to start a dialogue between mathematicians and cognitive scientists. He discusses, from a working mathematician's point of view, the mystery of mathematical intuition: why are certain mathematical concepts more intuitive than others? To what extent does the "small scale" structure of mathematical concepts and algorithms reflect the workings of the human brain? What are the "elementary particles" of mathematics that build up the mathematical universe?

    One of the principal points of the book is the essential vertical unity of mathematics, the natural integration of its simplest objects and concepts into the complex hierarchy of mathematics as a whole. The same ideas and patterns of thinking can be found in elementary school arithmetic and in cutting-edge mathematical theories. There are no boundaries between "recreational", "elementary", "undergraduate", and "research" mathematics; the book freely moves throughout the whole range. Nevertheless, the author takes great care in keeping the book as non-technical as possible.

    The book is saturated with amusing examples from a wide range of disciplines—from turbulence to error-correcting codes to logic—as well as with just puzzles and brainteasers. Despite the very serious subject matter, the author's approach is lighthearted and entertaining.

    Readership

    Undergraduate students, mathematicians, and the general scientific audience interested in cognitive aspects of mathematics.

  • Table of Contents
     
     
    • Part I. Simple things: How structures of human cognition reveal themselves in mathematics
    • 1. A taste of things to come
    • 2. What you see is what you get
    • 3. The wing of the hummingbird
    • 4. Simple things
    • 5. Infinity and beyond
    • 6. Encapsulation of actual infinity
    • Part II. Mathematical reasoning
    • 7. What is it that makes a mathematician?
    • 8. “Kolmogorov’s logic” and heuristic reasoning
    • 9. Recovery vs. discovery
    • 10. The line of sight
    • Part III. History and philosophy
    • 11. The ultimate replicating machines
    • 12. The vivisection of the Cheshire Cat
  • Reviews
     
     
    • ...an ambitious book that covers a great deal of material...[The book contains] many gems, amusing observations, thought-provoking links between mathematics and cognition, and unconventional ideas that every math teacher should be forced to wrestle with...Recommended.

      J.F. Kolacinski, Choice
  • Requests
     
     
    Review Copy – for reviewers who would like to review an AMS book
    Permission – for use of book, eBook, or Journal content
    Accessibility – to request an alternate format of an AMS title
2010; 317 pp
MSC: Primary 00; 97;

This is an unusual and unusually fascinating book.

Readers who never thought about mathematics after their school years will be amazed to discover how many habits of mind, ideas, and even material objects that are inherently mathematical serve as building blocks of our civilization and everyday life.

A professional mathematician, reluctantly breaking the daily routine, or pondering on some resisting problem, will open this book and enjoy a sudden return to his or her young days when mathematics was fresh, exciting, and holding all promises.

And do not take the word “microscope” in the title too literally: in fact, the author looks around, in time and space, focusing in turn on a tremendous variety of motives, from mathematical “memes” (genes of culture) to an unusual life of a Hollywood star.

Yuri I. Manin, Max-Planck Institute of Mathematics, Bonn, and Northwestern University

It is an unusual book that casts new and paradoxical light on the nature of mathematics.

This book will be interesting—perhaps for different reasons—to school teachers of mathematics, to math majors at universities, to graduate students in mathematics and computer science, to research mathematicians and computer scientists, to philosophers and historians of mathematics, and to psychologists and neurophysiologists.

The author's goal is to start a dialogue between mathematicians and cognitive scientists. He discusses, from a working mathematician's point of view, the mystery of mathematical intuition: why are certain mathematical concepts more intuitive than others? To what extent does the "small scale" structure of mathematical concepts and algorithms reflect the workings of the human brain? What are the "elementary particles" of mathematics that build up the mathematical universe?

One of the principal points of the book is the essential vertical unity of mathematics, the natural integration of its simplest objects and concepts into the complex hierarchy of mathematics as a whole. The same ideas and patterns of thinking can be found in elementary school arithmetic and in cutting-edge mathematical theories. There are no boundaries between "recreational", "elementary", "undergraduate", and "research" mathematics; the book freely moves throughout the whole range. Nevertheless, the author takes great care in keeping the book as non-technical as possible.

The book is saturated with amusing examples from a wide range of disciplines—from turbulence to error-correcting codes to logic—as well as with just puzzles and brainteasers. Despite the very serious subject matter, the author's approach is lighthearted and entertaining.

Readership

Undergraduate students, mathematicians, and the general scientific audience interested in cognitive aspects of mathematics.

  • Part I. Simple things: How structures of human cognition reveal themselves in mathematics
  • 1. A taste of things to come
  • 2. What you see is what you get
  • 3. The wing of the hummingbird
  • 4. Simple things
  • 5. Infinity and beyond
  • 6. Encapsulation of actual infinity
  • Part II. Mathematical reasoning
  • 7. What is it that makes a mathematician?
  • 8. “Kolmogorov’s logic” and heuristic reasoning
  • 9. Recovery vs. discovery
  • 10. The line of sight
  • Part III. History and philosophy
  • 11. The ultimate replicating machines
  • 12. The vivisection of the Cheshire Cat
  • ...an ambitious book that covers a great deal of material...[The book contains] many gems, amusing observations, thought-provoking links between mathematics and cognition, and unconventional ideas that every math teacher should be forced to wrestle with...Recommended.

    J.F. Kolacinski, Choice
Review Copy – for reviewers who would like to review an AMS book
Permission – for use of book, eBook, or Journal content
Accessibility – to request an alternate format of an AMS title
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