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Simply Riemann

by Jeremy Gray


Born to a poor Lutheran pastor in what is today the Federal Republic of Germany, Bernhard Riemann (1826-1866) was a child math prodigy who began studying for a degree in theology before formally committing to mathematics in 1846, at the age of 20. Though he would live for only another 20 years (he died of pleurisy during a trip to Italy), his seminal work in a number of key areas—several of which now bear his name—had a decisive impact on the shape of mathematics in the succeeding century and a half.

In Simply Riemann, author Jeremy Gray provides a comprehensive and intellectually stimulating introduction to Riemann’s life and paradigm-defining work. Beginning with his early influences—in particular his relationship with his renowned predecessor Carl Friedrich Gauss—Gray goes on to explore Riemann’s specific contributions to geometry, functions of a complex variable, prime numbers, and functions of a real variable, which opened the way to discovering the limits of the calculus. He shows how without Riemannian geometry, cosmology after Einstein would be unthinkable, and he illuminates the famous Riemann hypothesis, which is regarded by many as the most important unsolved problem in mathematics today.

With admirable concision and clarity, Simply Riemann opens the door on one of the most profound and original thinkers of the 19th century—a man who pioneered the concept of a multidimensional reality and who always saw his work as another way to serve God.

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