The Harmony of the World: 75 Years of Mathematics Magazine, edited by Gerald L. Alexanderson and Peter Ross, the Mathematical Association of America, Washington, D. C., 2007. 304 pp., $55.95 (hardbound). ISBN 9780883855607.
Five out of five stars
Given a publication history of 75 years, finding a collection of 38 papers that are an accurate representation of the content is an impossible task. Mathematics is a very broad subject with many applications that have been reflected in the pages of Mathematics Magazine. Yet, to their credit, the editors do as good a job as is possible.
The papers in this book, all of which appeared in Mathematics Magazine, are yet another demonstration of the incredible breadth of mathematics. Although the majority deal with some aspect of history, the study of the history of mathematics is also a demonstration of the breadth.
The organization is based on decades, with a small number of papers from each of the ten-year spans. For example, there are three papers from the 1940s, five papers from the 1950s and seven papers from the 1960s. This is an organizing principle only, there is no other significance that can be attached to it.
Although some of the papers contain a bit of rigor, all of the papers are expository in nature, accessible to the advanced undergraduate and suitable for assigned reading. Teachers of the history of mathematics will find many of the papers appropriate for student reading and discussion. Each paper begins with a short “Editor’s note” that establishes the context of the paper, including a brief bio of the author. As with the rest of the book, this feature is also well done.
This book was made available for free for review purposes