Poincaré's Prize

Poincaré's Prize

The Hundred-year Quest to Solve One of Math's Greatest Puzzles

Book - 2007
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With a reclusive and eccentric hero, dramatic turns, and a million-dollar payoff, Poincare's Prize is the stuff of great fiction. Amazingly, the story unveiled in it is true.

In the world of math, the Poincare Conjecture was a holy grail. Decade after decade the theorem that informs how we understand the shape of the universe defied every effort to prove it. Now, after more than a century, an eccentric Russian recluse has found the solution to one of the seven greatest math problems of our time, earning the right to claim the first one-million-dollar Millennium math prize.

George Szpiro begins his masterfully told story in 1904 when Frenchman Henri Poincare formulated a conjecture about a seemingly simple problem. Imagine an ant crawling around on a large surface. How would it know whether the surface is a flat plane, a round sphere, or a bagel- shaped object? The ant would need to lift off into space to observe the object. How could you prove the shape was spherical without actually seeing it? Simply, this is what Poincare sought to solve.

Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Dutton, c2007.
ISBN: 9780525950240
Branch Call Number: 510.76 S998
Characteristics: ix, 309 p.

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John_M
Jul 19, 2011

I did not know the mathematical community could be so intriguing. This book follows the development and many false starts into a conjecture that took almost 100 years to solve. This could have had a bit more mathematics, even if only in an annex but still a great story and well presented.

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duanhao
Apr 10, 2010

This book is a good read regarding a topic in topology. It is accessible to the average reader, and interestingly enough, the conjecture (now a theorem) can be introduced with basic notions of topology but the work involved to prove it far exceeds the statement as it can be shown in the book. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in knowing what is the characterization of a sphere. I.e. What makes a sphere a sphere?

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