Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Review

Visions of Infinity

By Ian Stewart

The book Visions of Infinity talked about some of the very important discoveries made my mathematicians in the past. One aspect of this book that I enjoyed was the position that was taken on presenting these discoveries. This book stayed away from long, confusing proofs of mathematical discoveries. Instead of focusing on the actual mathematics of certain people, this book focused more on the thought process behind the math. Throughout the book, many different theorems and conjectures are discussed, as well as how each of these was thought about. Some of the problems that are talked about are the millennial problems. These problems offer a hefty reward of $1,000,000 if they are solved. While there have been numerous attempts to solve these problems, only one of the problems has been solved so far. Visions of Infinity covers a spectrum of topics. These topics range from simple things like prime number and the four color theorem to the Mass Gap Hypothesis.
                This book does a good job of making the topics readable to an audience that is not an expert in mathematics. However, I don’t think that this book is a good read for everyone. Even though Visions of Infinity does a good job putting much of the information in simpler terms, there were a few parts that went clear over my head. I know that I am no master mathematician by any means, but I would like to think that I have more experience and a better understanding of math than the general population.
                Overall I think that this is a great book to read if you are interested in the mathematical discoveries throughout history, and have at least some knowledge of upper level math. I really enjoyed reading about how each of these discoveries has progressed over time and the contributions of the many mathematicians over the years. I also liked seeing that each of these discoveries required the work of so many different people. I would recommend this book to any undergrad math student with the advice to take the time to really this book, as it is not a quick read if you want to really understand it.


  1. Fine review. I like how you drew out the cooperative nature of the history, and identified a good audience for the book.

  2. This seems like a fun/easy read. Reading about the million dollar prize sound like sweet looking at. I have heard of them so i would defiantly enjoy reading those. I also, like how you say "this book focused more on the thought process behind the math". I imagine that your able to feel as if your discovering math with a little help, which always makes you feel smart!

  3. I think you did a really good job explaining what the book was about and highlighting the parts that were interesting. You also did a good job of explaining that not everyone would enjoy the book and that it should be directed at someone with a mathematical background. Overall this was a very good review of the book.