Welcome to the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) blog. The IMA is the UK's learned and professional society for mathematics and its applications. We promote mathematics research, education and careers, and the use of mathematics in business, industry and commerce. Among our activities we produce academic journals, organise conferences and engage with government.

In this blog we will publish mathematical articles and news to reflect the interests of our members who come from a multiplicity of different organisations including university academics, industrial mathematicians, financiers, school teachers, scientists, civil servants etc.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Math Book wins BSHM Neumann Prize


Last Christmas I received a copy of The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension (Sterling Publishing) by Dr Clifford A Pickover, which offers 250 milestones in the history of mathematics. I had read a review of this in iSquared Magazine (issue 10, p. 32) which called the book "a valuable source of knowledge on mathematics, which illustrates perfectly the richness of both its ancient and recent history... [while demonstrating] that mathematics is very much a living, breathing subject with a long and exciting future ahead".

This is an attractive book in which each milestone is given a two page spread, with one page a beautiful illustration and the other a short description of the achievement, written clearly and concisely. It is very well suited to a mathematician's coffee table, being a book that could be read from cover to cover or dipped into. The book opens at c. 150 million B.C. with ants counting their steps to measure distances, and goes through to 2007, two years before the book was published, to the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis. In between, the milestones are wide-ranging and show both the elegance and beauty of mathematics itself and its importance in science and engineering.

This evening, The Math Book has been awarded the Neumann Prize 2011 by the British Society for the History of Mathematics (BSHM) during a lecture at Gresham College in London. This prize is awarded every two years for the best book in the history of mathematics aimed at a broad audience. You can read an interview with the author, Cliff Pickover, on the occasion of the award.

I am pleased that the excellent book has been rewarded in this way and that this prize acknowledges the contribution of writing on mathematics for a broad audience.

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