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Mathematical Association of America

Marcus du Sautoy

The music of the primes

To mark the start of the new millennium, the Clay Mathematics institute offered $1000000 for the solution of each of seven classic mathematical problems. The longest standing of these problems is Riemann hypothesis, concerning the zeros of the Riemann zeta function ζ(s), which is closely connected to the distribution of the primes. In 'The music of the primes' du Sautoy charts the history of attempts to prove this hypothesis. This is done via biographical details of those involved, so it doesn't require any prior mathematical knowledge. However, one can tell that it is a professional mathematician writing - he clearly knows the subject he is dealing with inside out.

The book starts before the time of Riemann, with Gauss's estimates of how the primes thin out as we go through the integers. These estimates resulted in the prime number conjecture, which Riemann was trying to prove when he invented his zeta function. This conjecture eventually became a theorem, but Riemann's own conjecture remains unproven. Du Sautoy leads us through the attempts of many mathematicans to prove the Riemann hypothesis, showing how often it led to interesting new mathematics, but sometimes to despair for those making the attempt. Indeed it almost reads like a novel, and at times I found it hard to put down - I wanted to see what the next attempt at a proof would lead to. info
Paperback 368 pages  
ISBN: 1841155802
Salesrank: 2149462
Published: 2004 Harpercollins Pub Ltd
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Hardcover 352 pages  
ISBN: 1841155799
Salesrank: 849037
Weight:1.46 lbs
Published: 2003 Fourth Estate
Marketplace:New from £216.05:Used from £0.01
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ISBN: 1841155799
Salesrank: 4241247
Weight:1.46 lbs
Published: Fourth Estate Ltd
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 299.12:Used from CDN$ 0.86
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Product Description
The paperback of the critically-acclaimed popular science book by a writer who is fast becoming a celebrity mathematician. Prime numbers are the very atoms of arithmetic. They also embody one of the most tantalising enigmas in the pursuit of human knowledge. How can one predict when the next prime number will occur? Is there a formula which could generate primes? These apparently simple questions have confounded mathematicians ever since the Ancient Greeks. In 1859, the brilliant German mathematician Bernard Riemann put forward an idea which finally seemed to reveal a magical harmony at work in the numerical landscape. The promise that these eternal, unchanging numbers would finally reveal their secret thrilled mathematicians around the world. Yet Riemann, a hypochondriac and a troubled perfectionist, never publicly provided a proof for his hypothesis and his housekeeper burnt all his personal papers on his death. Whoever cracks Riemann's hypothesis will go down in history, for it has implications far beyond mathematics. In business, it is the lynchpin for security and e-commerce. In science, it has critical ramifications in Quantum Mechanics, Chaos Theory, and the future of computing. Pioneers in each of these fields are racing to crack the code and a prize of $1 million has been offered to the winner. As yet, it remains unsolved. In this breathtaking book, mathematician Marcus du Sautoy tells the story of the eccentric and brilliant men who have struggled to solve one of the biggest mysteries in science. It is a story of strange journeys, last-minute escapes from death and the unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Above all, it is a moving and awe-inspiring evocation of the mathematician's world and the beauties and mysteries it contains.