Mathematical People : Profiles and Interviews book cover
2nd Edition

Mathematical People
Profiles and Interviews

ISBN 9781568813400
Published September 18, 2008 by A K Peters/CRC Press
416 Pages

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Book Description

This unique collection contains extensive and in-depth interviews with mathematicians who have shaped the field of mathematics in the twentieth century. Collected by two mathematicians respected in the community for their skill in communicating mathematical topics to a broader audience, the book is also rich with photographs and includes an introduction by Philip J. Davis.

Table of Contents

Foreword. Introduction: Reflections on Writing the History of Mathematics. Garrett Birkhoff. David Blackwell. Shiing-Shen Chern. John H. Conway. H. S. M. Coxeter. Persi Diaconis. Paul Erdos.  Martin Gardner: Defending the Honor of the Human Mind. Martin Gardner: Master of Recreational Mathematics and Much More. Ronald L Graham. Paul Halmos. Peter J. Hilton. John Kemeny. Morris Kline. Donald Knuth. Solomon Lefschetz: AReminiscence. Benoit Mandelbrot. Henry Pollak. George Pólya. Mina Rees. Constance Reid. Herbert Robbins. Raymond Smullyan. Olga Taussky-Todd. Albert Tucker. Stanislaw M. Ulam

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Gerald L. Alexanderson is the Valeriote Professor of Science at Santa Clara University and former chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. He is the Former President (1997-1999) and past Secretary of the Mathematical Association of America. He is also the Associate Director of the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition and editor of the Spectrum Series of books for the MAA. Donald J. Albers is Editorial Director of the books program of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). He is former Associate Executive Director and Director of Publications of the MAA. Prior to that, he was chair of the Department of Mathematics of Menlo College. He was the founding editor of Math Horizons, and as editor of the College Mathematics Journal he introduced interviews and profiles of famous mathematical personalities, which ultimately led to the publication of Mathematical People (with G.L. Alexanderson) and More Mathematical People (with Alexanderson and Constance Reid). He has co-edited six other books.


book fills an existing need in that it makes the ways in which mathematicians work and mathematics progresses more understandable to the general public.
—M. Bona, CHOICE, March 2009

It is a book about people, some with a great deal of color and character and others who were much more staid in their views and life. The overall theme of the book is that in mathematics you can find people with all types of personalities, lifestyles and views of the world. In that respect it is very refreshing.
—Charles Ashbacher, MAA Reviews, December 2008

Recognising that much of the material in this book is not readily available elsewhere, [the editors] determined to make the interviews available to a new generation of readers interested in mathematics. . . . This book will be of great interest to anyone interested in contemporary mathematicians and what ’makes them tick’, and can be warmly recommended.
—Robin Wilson, The London Mathematical Society Newsletter, July 2009

...teachers will find anecdotes and tales to amuse and even inspire their students. Young people drawn to mathematics will learn from this book that the leading doers of mathematics were and are broadly engaged in the general artistic, cultural, and intellectual enterprise that gives meaning and joy to life. Whatever divide exists between the culture of the mathematical niche and some general world culture is not the fault of mathematicians.
—James N. Boyd, Mathematics Teacher, September 2009

The well-written classical interviews may influence many young students and scientists beginning their careers to study and do mathematics or its applications.
EMS Newsletter, March 2009