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"Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction" by Timothy Gowers

A fine introduction to the problem-solving subject that has held humanity together and enabled us to invent and explore all our very surroundings.

Alright people, let the groans out. Even before most of you finished reading this second sentence, you've scrolled down, then back up, and suddenly closed your web browser. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how a lot of people feel about the numerical-laden science—Mathematics.

Why must one be informed about Math in a short introduction when tons of people hate it? Because those who are curious and wanting to know how much the science, or you could say art, of Math has progressed and what it consists of. Sometimes it's best to know what its goal is before making a salacious assumption about how much one dislikes doing it. People blame it on their teacher(s), blame it on the education system....I don't know anymore. Let's just talk about the book:

Author Gowers did his best to gently introduce the subject without firing away with beefy equations, like those found in Astrophysics or Category Theory. From Arithmetic to Geometry, Gowers explains what area calculates what and what its intended purpose is. This is great as we often take for granted why Math is applied on what area in our lives and its application(s) in today's professions. In addition to that, Gowers touches base on Limits and Dimension—key elements to Calculus and Probability.

Though it is a very short introduction, there is very little references to its history and development, and thus, Gowers goes on to describe the behaviors and disciplines of the provided mathematical areas. Having mentioned that, Math historians likely won't find much from this title.

After reading it, I feel this best caters to those who already have a solid grasp of basic Math and wanting to know more about the other areas. In other words, those in middle to early high school will find this a great companion to introduce them on what the "beauty" means in Mathematics. Sadly, even though it's an introduction, this book was not written for the layman, as the terms and descriptions are used without much explanation. Not to say it's a bad thing, but this best cater to those with good experience in Math. Therefore, those approaching their teen years will find this to be a great introduction, and to an extent, a great inspiration to separate those who dislike this subject (if you're one of those people, I stand and applaud you).

Great book; Check it out!





  • Accessible introduction, gently introducing the most common mathematical disciplines used everyday.
  • Understandable and no too extreme with the math parts.
  • Would have liked to see more of the development and history of the subject.
85% (B)
Fan Rating
Title Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction
Author(s) Timothy Gowers
Description Mathematics is a subject we are all exposed to in our daily lives, but one which many of us fear. In this eminently accessible and entertaining introduction, Timothy Gowers elucidates the most fundamental differences, which are primarily philosophical, between advanced mathematics and what we learn at school, so that one emerges with a clearer understanding of such paradoxical-sounding concepts as 'infinity', 'curved space', and 'imaginary numbers'. From basic ideas, through to philosophical queries, to common sociological questions about the mathematical community this book unravels some of the mysteries of space and numbers.
Acknowledgements "To Emily I dedicate this book, in the hope that it will give her a small idea of what it is I do all day."
ISBN 9 780192 853615 // 978-0-19-285361-5
Book Dimensions Width: 4.88″ (4 7/8″)
Height: 6.88″ (6 7/8″)
Depth: 0.31″ (5/16″)
Page Count 160
Contents Preface, List of diagrams, Models, Numbers and abstraction, Proofs, Limits and infinity, Dimension, Geometry, Estimates and approximations, Some frequently asked questions, Further Reading, Index
Cover Painting Philip Atkins
Published 2002
Publisher Oxford University Press
Copyright © Timothy Gowers 2002
Printed in Great Britain
Book Format Paperback, Kindle, eBook
Quoted Reviews "a thoroughly good idea. Snappy, small-format . . . stylish design . . . perfect to pop into your pocket for spare moments" —Lisa Jardine, The Times

"A very good idea, these Very Short Introductions, a new concept from OUP." —Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
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