The Mathematical Experience
The Mathematical Experience (1981) is a book by Philip J. Davis and Reuben Hersh that discusses the practice of modern mathematics from a historical and philosophical perspective. Its first paperback edition won a U.S. National Book Award in Science.^{1}^{a}
It is frequently cited by mathematicians as a book that was influential in their decision to continue their studies in graduate school and has been hailed as a classic of mathematical literature.^{2}
In accordance with its title, it attempts to describe, in light of the turbulent history and philosophy of mathematics, the experience of being a mathematician. It focuses on the proof, without going fully into the rigorous how-to details, gives examples of some highly interesting and famous proofs, as well as the outstanding problems of mathematics (the Riemann hypothesis, etc.), and goes on to speculate on what a proof really means, in relationship to actual truth.
Other topics include mathematics in education and some (obviously-outdated, but still mostly relevant) computer mathematics.
The book was generally well-received^{who?} but drew a critical review from Martin Gardner, who disagreed with some of the authors' philosophical opinions.^{3}
A new edition, published in 1998, includes exercises and problems, making the book more suitable for classrooms. There is also The Companion Guide to The Mathematical Experience, Study Edition. Both were co-authored with Elena A. Marchisotto.
The authors wrote a follow-up book, Descartes' Dream: The World According to Mathematics (Harcourt, 1986), and each has written other books with related themes, such as Mathematics And Common Sense: A Case of Creative Tension by Davis and What is Mathematics, Really? by Hersh.
Notes
- ^ This was the 1983 award for paperback Science.
From 1980 to 1983 in National Book Award history there were dual hardcover and paperback awards in most categories, and several nonfiction subcategories including General Nonfiction. Most of the paperback award-winners were reprints, including this one.
References
- ^ "National Book Awards – 1983". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- ^ jkauzlar (perhaps James Joseph Kauzlarich?) (18 September 20002). "MathForge.net--Power Tools for Online Mathematics". Archived from the original on 2006-10-022. "One of the classics of mathematical literature,The Mathematical Experience, by Philip J Davis and Rueben Hersh, remains pertinent and fulfills its lofty ambitions even 20 years past its 1981 publication."
- ^ Gardner, Martin (August 13, 1981). "Is Mathematics for Real?". New York Review of Books: 37–40.
External links
- Book Review of the 1995 edition, by Kenneth C. Millett at the American Mathematical Society
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