Mathematics Books of General Interest
- Amir Aczel, Fermat's Last Theorem, Dell Books, 1996. A
history and mathematical discussion of "Fermat's Last Theorem"
as studied over the centuries, culminating in its solution by Andrew
- David Blatner, The Joy of Pi, Walker Publishing, 1997. This
is a very nice account of the history and culture of pi.
- Calvin Clawson, Mathematical Mysteries: The Beauty and Magic of
Numbers, Plenum Publishing, 1996. A very well-written lay
introduction to number theory.
- Carl Boyer, A History of Mathematics, John Wiley Publishing,
1968. This is one of the classic textbooks on the history of
- John Casti, Five Golden Rules: Great Theories of 20th-Mathemtics
- and Why They Matter, John Wiley Publishing, 1996. This gives an
intelligent and readable discussion of some great mathematical ideas
of this century, with applications of those ideas outside of
- John Conway and Richard Guy, The Book of Numbers, Springer-Verlag,
1996. An interesting presentation and discussion of numbers, from integers to
- Richard Courant and Herbert Robbins; revised by Ian Stewart, What is
Mathematics?, Oxford University Press, 1996. This is an update of a classic
introduction to mathematics.
- Philip Davis, The Thread: A Mathematical Yarn, Harvester
Press, 1983. This is a unique and eclectic tale tying together
mathematical ideas and personalities across the centuries. An
interesting and enjoyable read!
- Philip Davis and Reuben Hersh, The Mathematical Experience,
Birkhäuser Publishing, 1981. This a very readable account,
incorporating discussions of the major areas of mathematics and the
history of mathematics.
- John Derbyshire, Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest
Unsolved Problem in Mathematics, Joseph Henry Press, 2003. This is an
excellent introduction to the Riemann Hypothesis and to its connection to
understanding the distribution of prime numbers. It is intended for the layman
who is not mathematically trained, although parts later in the book are best
appreciated with some knowledge of the theory of functions of a complex
variable. Nonetheless, I would recommend it to a general reader who is
interested in understanding one of the great problems of mathematics.
- Heinrich Dörrie, 100 Great Problems of Elementary
Mathematics: Their History and Solution, Dover Publications, 1965.
This is an English language translation of the original German text,
published in 1958. This is a more technical book written for
mathematicians, but still written at an accessible and somewhat
- C. H. Edwards, Jr., The Historical Development of the Calculus,
- Clifton Fadiman, Fantasia Mathematica, Springer-Verlag, 1997.
Reprint from the 1958 publication. Collection of miscellaneous stories and other
materials involving mathematics.
- James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science, Penguin Books,
1987. This was a very well-read popular account of chaos theory and the
associated topics of dynamical systems and fractal geometry.
- G. H. Hardy, A Mathematician's Apology (with a forward by C. P.
Snow), Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1940. This is a personal (and very
famous) accounting of doing mathematics by a 'mathematical great'. It is also a
sad and ironic memoir.
- Paul Hoffman, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, Fourth Estate
Limited, London, 1999. This is a biography of Paul Erdös, possibly the most
fascinating mathematician of the 20th Century.
- Andrew Hodges, Alan Turing: The Enigma, Simon &
Schuster, 1983. This is a biography of one of the most important deep thinkers
in the development of modern computing, a man whose name is given to the premier
award in computer science, The Turing Award.
- George Gheverghese Joseph, The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots
of Mathematics. This is an excellent source of history on the
contributions to the development of mathematics from ancient Egypt, Babylonia,
India, China, the Arab world, and other parts of the non-European world.
- T. W. Körner, The Pleasures of Counting, Cambridge
University Press, 1996. A well-written and interesting introductory
discussion of many areas of mathematics.
- George Lakoff and Rafael Núñez, Where Mathematics Comes
From:, How The Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics Into Being, Basic
Books, New York, 2000. This is a cognitive analysis of the structure of
- Eli Maor, e: The Story of a Number, Princeton University Press,
1994. This is a history of the number e, discussing also the history
of pi, i, and other important quantities in mathematics.
- Tristan Needham, Visual Complex Analysis, Clarendon Press, 1997.
This is a lovely presentation of complex analysis, emphasizing its geometric
- Ivars Peterson, The Mathematical Tourist: Snapshots of Modern
Mathematics, Freeman Publishers, 1988.
- Charles Seife, Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea,
Penguin Books, New York, 2000. This is an historical and mathematical analysis
of the development of the idea of zero in our number system, explaining its
historical significance outside of mathematics, especially in religion and
- George Simmons, Calculus Gems: Brief Lives and Memorable
Mathematics, McGraw-Hill Publishing, 1992. An accounting of the
major figures in the development of the calculus, together with a
discussion of the some of the important mathematical problems studied in
- David Smith, A Source Book in Mathematics, Dover
Publications, 1959. This was originally published in 1929, and it
contains original writings from important papers of well-known
mathematicians, from 1478 onwards.
- Ian Stewart, The Problems of Mathematics, Oxford Press,
1987. Discusses the "nature of mathematics" by looking at
particular important problems, many of interest in current applications
to real world problems (e.g. cryptology). Stewart is one of best known
popularizers of mathematics.
- Ian Stewart, Does God Play Dice? The Mathematics of Chaos,
Blackwell Publishers, 1989. A very readable account of chaos theory and
the associated topics of dynamical systems and fractal geometry.
- Ian Stewart, Nature's Numbers: The Unreal Reality of Mathematics,
Basic Books, 1995.
- John Stillwell, Mathematics and Its History, Springer-Verlag, 1989.