Friday, February 27, 2015

Joel Haack Reviews How Euler Did Even More

Joel Haack reviewed How Euler Did Even More by C. Edward Sandifer as part of MAA Reviews.

C. Edward Sandifer’s How Euler Did Even More is the second collection of his monthly columns from MAA Online, “How Euler Did It.” The first collection, also titled How Euler Did It, appeared in 2007 as part of the five-volume set published by the MAA in recognition of the tercentenary of Euler’s birth. It contained Sandifer’s columns from November 2003 through February 2007. This second collection contains his columns from March 2007 through February 2010, with the addition of two guest columns by Rob Bradley and one by Dominic Klyve. (Bradley assisted Sandifer with the details of the publication of this collection.)

There are several ways to read this book. First, one may choose simply to open it at random to read Sandifer’s discussion of how Euler attacked and thought about certain problems. Sandifer places Euler’s work into context of the mathematics of his time, then describes what Euler did and how he did it and why it mattered, keeping in mind the advice of John Fauvel that Sandifer references in How Euler Did It: “Content, Context and Significance.” An alternative would be to read the columns for particular topics that Euler considered; the columns are organized into sections on geometry, number theory, combinatorics, analysis, applied mathematics, and Euleriana. This last section includes two columns reflecting on Euler as teacher, two on light-hearted topics (Euler and the hollow earth and Euler and pirates), and one discussing of Euler’s fallibility.

Read the full review here.

Joel Haack is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Northern Iowa.

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