The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved
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The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved : How Mathematical Genius Discovered the Language of Symmetry

3.88 (1,052 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

What do Bach's compositions, Rubik's Cube, the way we choose our mates, and the physics of subatomic particles have in common? All are governed by the laws of symmetry, which elegantly unify scientific and artistic principles. Yet the mathematical language of symmetry-known as group theory-did not emerge from the study of symmetry at all, but from an equation that couldn't be solved. For thousands of years mathematicians solved progressively more difficult algebraic equations, until they encountered the quintic equation, which resisted solution for three centuries. Working independently, two great prodigies ultimately proved that the quintic cannot be solved by a simple formula. These geniuses, a Norwegian named Niels Henrik Abel and a romantic Frenchman named Evariste Galois, both died tragically young. Their incredible labor, however, produced the origins of group theory. The first extensive, popular account of the mathematics of symmetry and order, The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved is told not through abstract formulas but in a beautifully written and dramatic account of the lives and work of some of the greatest and most intriguing mathematicians in history.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 353 pages
  • 147.3 x 233.7 x 12.7mm | 340.2g
  • SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Annotated
  • Annotated edition
  • Illustrations, unspecified
  • 0743258215
  • 9780743258210
  • 255,702

Review quote

"A lively and fascinating read for a broad audience." -- Natureshow more

Rating details

1,052 ratings
3.88 out of 5 stars
5 30% (313)
4 38% (395)
3 25% (264)
2 6% (65)
1 1% (15)
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