The Music of the Primes

| March 10, 2012 | 1 Comment

Marcus Du Sautoy can be called a pioneer of popular mathematics — he is one of the few hosts, who actually brought popularity to mathematics documentaries. Just a decade ago it was really hard to find a good mathematics documentary, but today there is a number of great documentaries that reach the quality standart of the  leading science documentaries. The list of good documentaries would be rather long, so I would just like to mention “The Story of Math” and “The Story of 1“, both of which I enjoyed a lot.

Author: Marcus du Sautoy

Paperback: 368

Publisher: Harper Perennial reprint (2012)

ISBN-10: 0062064010

ISBN-13: 978-0062064011

Difficulty level: easy

Reviews: customer reviews

Rating: ★★★★½ Ranking: 117,177 US Version UK Version

Now you might be wondering why am I writing about math documentaries and the answer is simple — the book that I would like to review today is in many ways similar to math documentaries. “The Music of the Primes” by Marcus Sautoy is as entertaining as many of his documentaries — it describes, with great enthusiasm, the journey towards the solution of the great Riemann hypothesis.

Marcus Du Sautoy is a professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford. His academic work concerns mainly group theory and number theory. Besides his academic work Marcus du Sautoy is also famous for popularising mathematics on TV and radio. He was also the host of the popular BBC documentary series “The Story of Maths”.

In “The Music of the Primes” Sautoy writes about one of the greatest problems of mathematics — the Riemann Hypothesis, — which deals with the distribution of the prime numbers.  Even though the distribution of the prime number is highly important in mathematics, economics and internet security, mathematicians cannot easily predict this distribution.

The Music of the Primes

“The Music of the Primes” delves deep into the history of mathematics to retrieve the fascinating stories about the talented mathematicians who sought to solve the Riemann hypothesis. Those who are familiar with the BBC documentaries hosted by Sautoy will find his style rather familiar. As always, Sautoy spends a lot of time telling the fascinating stories from the biographies of the famous mathematicians. And, believe it or not, mathematicians, with their bizarre personalities and intriguing life stories, would make good movie characters.

The book follows the tradition of  popular science books in the sense that it is easy and fun to read. Actually, reading “The Music of the Primes” feels more like reading a novel than a math book, which can be both good and bad depending on the reader. Due to this reason I wouldn’t recommend this book for the more mathematically minded readers, especially if they are already somewhat familiar with the story behind Riemann hypothesis. However, for those trying to find out more about the history of one of the greatest problems in mathematics, without putting much emphasis on the maths itself, “The Music of the Primes” is a great choice.





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Category: Math Books

Comments (1)

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  1. Exceptional post but I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Appreciate it!

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