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Marcus du Sautoy

Finding Moonshine

Mathematical Group theory seems a pretty obscure subject, and most people probably wouldn't think of theclassification of simple groups, completed in the 1980's, as being of ny interest. If you read Marcus du Sautoy's book Finding Moonshine: A Mathematician's Journey Through Symmetry, though, then you might get to understand the enthusiasm of a small number of people for this subject.

The book is in twelve chapters, each given the name of a month of the year (starting, not with January as you might expect, but with August). Du Sautoy tells of his life as a mathematician, describing some of the problems he works on, and the experience of solving such a problem after having battled with it for months or years - but then there's always the worry that there's a hidden flaw. We also find out about his holidays, which also involve plenty of mathematics - on his visit to the Alhambra palace in Granada, du Sautoy was determined to find examples of all 17 two dimensional symmetries in the wall patterns.

A significant thread in the book is the history of symmetry, from the Platonic solids, through the development of algebra up to the work of Galois, and continuing with the development of group theory in the 19th and 20th century. The reader is thus introduced to the 'Monster' group, and its relationships with totally a separate part of mathematics - the 'Moonshine' of the title (In the USA the book is entitled Symmetry: A Journey into the Patterns of Nature though.)

It's an entertaining read, and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a glimpse into the life of abstract mathematics with a minimum of technicalities.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 384 pages  
ISBN: 0060789417
Salesrank: 404184
Weight:0.62 lbs
Published: 2009 Harper Perennial
Amazon price $6.91
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 400 pages  
ISBN: 0007214626
Salesrank: 291422
Weight:0.62 lbs
Published: 2009 Harper Perennial
Amazon price £9.48
Marketplace:New from £2.98:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 384 pages  
ISBN: 0060789417
Salesrank: 192049
Weight:0.62 lbs
Published: 2009 Harper Perennial
Amazon price CDN$ 14.39
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 10.20:Used from CDN$ 10.16
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Product Description

Symmetry is all around us. Of fundamental significance to the way we interpret the world, this unique, pervasive phenomenon indicates a dynamic relationship between objects. Combining a rich historical narrative with his own personal journey as a mathematician, Marcus du Sautoy takes a unique look into the mathematical mind as he explores deep conjectures about symmetry and brings us face-to-face with the oddball mathematicians, both past and present, who have battled to understand symmetry's elusive qualities.