What Is Mathematics?
Cover of 1996 second edition
|Author||Richard Courant and Herbert Robbins|
|Publisher||Oxford University Press|
What Is Mathematics? is a mathematics book written by Richard Courant and Herbert Robbins, published in England by Oxford University Press. It is an introduction to mathematics, intended both for the mathematics student and for the general public.
First published in 1941, it discusses number theory, geometry, topology and calculus. A second edition was published in 1996 with an additional chapter on recent progress in mathematics, written by Ian Stewart. The first Italian translation, Che cos'è la matematica?, was published in 1950, where a translation of the second edition was issued in 2000. A Spanish translation of the second edition, ¿Qué Son Las Matemáticas?, was published in 2002. Millions of copies of unauthorised Russian and Chinese editions have been printed.
Although Robbins assisted in writing a large part of the book, which was based on Courant's course material, Courant alone held the copyright for the book. This resulted in Robbins receiving a smaller share of the royalties. Michael Katehakis remembers Robbins interest in the literature and Tolstoy in particular and he is convinced that the title of the book is most likely due to Robbins, who was inspired by the title of the essay What is Art? by Leo Tolstoy. Robbins did the same in the book Great Expectations : The Theory of Optimal Stopping he co-authored with Yuan-Shih Chow and David Siegmund, where one can not miss the connection with the title of the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.
- What Is Mathematics? An Elementary Approach to Ideas and Methods, book review by Brian E. Blank, Notices of the American Mathematical Society 48, #11 (December 2001), pp. 1325–1330
- What Is Mathematics?, book review by Leonard Gillman, The American Mathematical Monthly 105, #5 (May 1998), pp. 485–488.
- What Is Mathematics?, book review by G. L. Alexanderson, The Two-Year College Mathematics Journal 10, #1 (January 1979), pp. 40–42.
- Richard Courant and Herbert Robbins (1941). What is Mathematics?: An Elementary Approach to Ideas and Methods. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-502517-2.
- (1996) 2nd edition, with additional material by Ian Stewart. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-510519-2.
- Courant, Richard; Robbins, Herbert; Stewart, Ian (2002). ¿Qué Son Las Matemáticas? Conceptos y métodos fundamentales (in Spanish). México, D. F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica. ISBN 968-16-6717-4. Spanish translation of the second English edition.
- Courant, Richard; Robbins, Herbert (1950). Che cos'è la matematica? Introduzione elementare ai suoi concetti e metodi (in Italian). Turin: Einaudi. (first Italian translation, from the 1945 English edition)
- Courant, Richard; Robbins, Herbert (1971). Che cos'è la matematica? Introduzione elementare ai suoi concetti e metodi (in Italian). Turin: Boringhieri. (based on the previous Eianudi's edition)
- Courant, Richard; Robbins, Herbert (1984). Toán học là gì (in Vietnamese). Hanoi: Khoa học Kỹ thuật. (Vietnamese translation by Hàn Liên Hải from the Russian edition)
- Courant, Richard; Robbins, Herbert; Stewart, Ian (2000). Che cos'è la matematica? Introduzione elementare ai suoi concetti e metodi (in Italian). Turin: Bollati Boringhieri. ISBN 88-339-1200-0. (Italian translation of the second English edition)
- Preston, Richard (2008). Panic in Level 4. United States: Random House. p. 38. ISBN 9781400064908.
The book is a classic. Millions of copies of it had been printed in unauthorized Russian and Chinese editions alone.
- Page, Warren; Robbins, Herbert (1984), "An Interview with Herbert Robbins", The College Mathematical Journal (The Mathematical Association of America) 15 (1): 5, doi:10.2307/3027425
- Herbert Robbins, Great Expectations: The Theory of Optimal Stopping, with Y. S. Chow and David Siegmund. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971.
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