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the mathematician s shiva
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WINNER OF THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING DEBUT FICTION For readers of This Is Where I Leave You and Everything Is Illuminated, “a brilliant and compelling family saga full of warmth, pathos, history and humor” (Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here) When the greatest female mathematician in history passes away, her son, Alexander “Sasha” Karnokovitch, just wants to mourn his mother in peace. But rumor has it the notoriously eccentric Polish émigré has solved one of the most difficult problems in all of mathematics, and has spitefully taken the solution to her grave. As a ragtag group of mathematicians from around the world descends upon Rachela’s shiva, determined to find the proof or solve it for themselves—even if it means prying up the floorboards for notes or desperately scrutinizing the mutterings of her African Grey parrot—Sasha must come to terms with his mother’s outsized influence on his life. Spanning decades and continents, from a crowded living room in Madison, Wisconsin, to the windswept beach on the Barents Sea where a young Rachela had her first mathematical breakthrough, The Mathematician’s Shiva is an unexpectedly moving and uproariously funny novel that captures humanity’s drive not just to survive, but to achieve the impossible.
The invention of numerals is perhaps the greatest abstraction the human mind has ever created. Virtually everything in our lives is digital, numerical, or quantified. The story of how and where we got these numerals, which we so depend on, has for thousands of years been shrouded in mystery. Finding Zero is an adventure filled saga of Amir Aczel's lifelong obsession: to find the original sources of our numerals. Aczel has doggedly crisscrossed the ancient world, scouring dusty, moldy texts, cross examining so-called scholars who offered wildly differing sets of facts, and ultimately penetrating deep into a Cambodian jungle to find a definitive proof. Here, he takes the reader along for the ride. The history begins with the early Babylonian cuneiform numbers, followed by the later Greek and Roman letter numerals. Then Aczel asks the key question: where do the numbers we use today, the so-called Hindu-Arabic numerals, come from? It is this search that leads him to explore uncharted territory, to go on a grand quest into India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and ultimately into the wilds of Cambodia. There he is blown away to find the earliest zero—the keystone of our entire system of numbers—on a crumbling, vine-covered wall of a seventh-century temple adorned with eaten-away erotic sculptures. While on this odyssey, Aczel meets a host of fascinating characters: academics in search of truth, jungle trekkers looking for adventure, surprisingly honest politicians, shameless smugglers, and treacherous archaeological thieves—who finally reveal where our numbers come from.
ICM 2010 proceedings comprise a four-volume set containing articles based on plenary lectures and invited section lectures, the Abel and Noether lectures, as well as contributions based on lectures delivered by the recipients of the Fields Medal, the Nevanlinna, and Chern Prizes. The first volume will also contain the speeches at the opening and closing ceremonies and other highlights of the Congress.
This is a unique book about natural catastrophes, focusing on the mathematical aspects of these phenomena. Although academic in style and didactic in purpose, it is practical in the treatment of the diverse issues covered, which range from hazard warning and forecasting to engineering design criteria and insurance loss estimation. Addressing as it does many mathematical topics not found together in a single volume, the book should be of value to all those with a quantitative educational interest in or professional concern for natural catastrophes. Contents:A Taxonomy of Natural HazardsA Sense of ScaleA Measure of UncertaintyA Matter of TimeForecastingDeciding to WarnA Question of DesignDamage EstimationCatastrophe CoverFinancial IssuesThe Third Millennium Readership: Earth and atmospheric scientists, civil engineers, geographers, economists and applied mathematicians. Keywords:Mathematics;Catastrophe;Hazard;Risk;Disaster;Uncertainty;Decision-making;Earthquake;Volcano;Windstorm
What happens when advances in technology allow many things to be produced for more or less nothing? And what happens when those things are then made available to the consumer for free? In his groundbreaking new book, The Long Tail author Chris Anderson considers a brave new world where the old economic certainties are being undermined by a growing flood of free goods - newspapers, DVDs, T shirts, phones, even holiday flights. He explains why this has become possible - why new technologies, particularly the Internet, have caused production and distribution costs in many sectors to plummet to an extent unthinkable even a decade ago. He shows how the flexibility provided by the online world allows producers to trade ever more creatively, offering items for free to make real or perceived gains elsewhere. He pinpoints the winners and the losers in the Free universe. And he demonstrates the ways in which, as an increasing number of things become available for free, our decisions to make use of them will be determined by two resources far more valuable than money: the popular reputation of what is on offer and the time we have available for it. In the future, he argues, when we talk of the 'money economy' we will talk of the 'reputation economy' and the 'time economy' in the same breath, and our world will never be the same again.
This book presents contributions of mathematicians covering topics from ancient India, placing them in the broader context of the history of mathematics. Although the translations of some Sanskrit mathematical texts are available in the literature, Indian contributions are rarely presented in major Western historical works. Yet some of the well-known and universally-accepted discoveries from India, including the concept of zero and the decimal representation of numbers, have made lasting contributions to the foundation of modern mathematics. Through a systematic approach, this book examines these ancient mathematical ideas that were spread throughout India, China, the Islamic world, and Western Europe.