What Is Mathematics?

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What is Mathematics
What Is Mathematics.jpg
Cover of 1996 second edition
Author Richard Courant and Herbert Robbins
Language English
Subject Mathematics
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publication date
1941
ISBN 0-19-502517-2
OCLC 16608993

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.[1]

Although Robbins wrote most of the book, he received almost none of the royalties. Courant owned the copyright, and passed almost none of the money on to Robbins.[2] 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.

Reviews[edit]

Editions[edit]

  • 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)

References[edit]

  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ Preston, Richard (2008). Panic in Level 4. United States: Random House. p. 38. ISBN 9781400064908. Robbins wrote most of the book, while Courant got ownership of the copyright and collected most of the royalties but paid almost none of the money to Robbins.