Symmetry: A Very Short Introduction

Symmetry: A Very Short Introduction

Paperback Very Short Introductions

By (author) Ian Stewart

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 160 pages
  • Dimensions: 104mm x 170mm x 10mm | 136g
  • Publication date: 12 July 2013
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199651981
  • ISBN 13: 9780199651986
  • Illustrations note: Approx 40 black and white line drawings
  • Sales rank: 221,670

Product description

In the 1800s mathematicians introduced a formal theory of symmetry: group theory. Now a branch of abstract algebra, this subject first arose in the theory of equations. Symmetry is an immensely important concept in mathematics and throughout the sciences, and its applications range across the entire subject. Symmetry governs the structure of crystals, innumerable types of pattern formation, how systems change their state as parameters vary; and fundamental physics is governed by symmetries in the laws of nature. It is highly visual, with applications that include animal markings, locomotion, evolutionary biology, elastic buckling, waves, the shape of the Earth, and the form of galaxies. In this Very Short Introduction, Ian Stewart demonstrates its deep implications, and shows how it plays a major role in the current search to unify relativity and quantum theory. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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Author information

Ian Stewart is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Warwick University. He is a well-established communicator of mathematics, and the author of over 80 books, including several on the subject of symmetry. His summary of the problems of mathematics, From Here to Infinity, and collections of his columns from Scientific American (How to Cut a Cake, Cows in the Maze), have been very successful, and his recent book Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities, has been a bestseller.

Review quote

"In his usual manner, noted mathematician and prolific writer Stewart shares mathematical ideas in an enjoyable context. Overall, a good read for anyone wanting to know about symmetries. Highly recommended." -J. Johnson, Western Washington University, CHOICE

Table of contents

Introduction ; 1. What is symmetry? ; 2. Origins of symmetry ; 3. Types of symmetry ; 4. Structure of groups ; 5. Groups and games ; 6. Nature's patterns ; 7. Nature's laws ; 8. Atoms of symmetry ; Further reading ; References