*Mathematics without Apologies*is a kaleidoscope of philosophical, sociological, historical and literary perspectives on what mathematicians do, and why."

**--Amir Alexander,**

*Nature*- Home
- Mathematics without Apologies

Portrait of a Problematic Vocation

With a new preface by the author

Editions

- Paperback2017Paperback22.9518.95ISBN9780691175836464 pp.6 x 9 1/416 halftones. 34 line illus.Live

- E-bookISBN9781400885527

What do pure mathematicians do, and why do they do it? Looking beyond the conventional answers—for the sake of truth, beauty, and practical applications—this book offers an eclectic panorama of the lives and values and hopes and fears of mathematicians in the twenty-first century, assembling material from a startlingly diverse assortment of scholarly, journalistic, and pop culture sources.

Drawing on his personal experiences and obsessions as well as the thoughts and opinions of mathematicians from Archimedes and Omar Khayyám to such contemporary giants as Alexander Grothendieck and Robert Langlands, Michael Harris reveals the charisma and romance of mathematics as well as its darker side. In this portrait of mathematics as a community united around a set of common intellectual, ethical, and existential challenges, he touches on a wide variety of questions, such as: Are mathematicians to blame for the 2008 financial crisis? How can we talk about the ideas we were born too soon to understand? And how should you react if you are asked to explain number theory at a dinner party?

Disarmingly candid, relentlessly intelligent, and richly entertaining, *Mathematics without Apologies* takes readers on an unapologetic guided tour of the mathematical life, from the philosophy and sociology of mathematics to its reflections in film and popular music, with detours through the mathematical and mystical traditions of Russia, India, medieval Islam, the Bronx, and beyond.

- Winner of the 2016 PROSE Award in Mathematics, Association of American Publishers
- One of
*Choice*'s Outstanding Academic Titles for the Year - Winner of the 2016 PROSE Award in Mathematics, Association of American Publishers
- One of
*Choice*'s Outstanding Academic Titles for 2015

Resources

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## Table of Contents

Part 1

Chapter 1. Introduction: The Veil 3

Chapter 2. How I Acquired Charisma 7

Chapter α. How to Explain Number Theory at a Dinner Party 41

(First Session: Primes) 43

Chapter 3. Not Merely Good, True, and Beautiful 54

Chapter 4. Megaloprepeia 80

Chapter β. How to Explain Number Theory at a Dinner Party 109

(Second Session: Equations) 109

Bonus Chapter 5. An Automorphic Reading of Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day (Interrupted by Elliptical Reflections on Mason & Dixon) 128

Part II 139

Chapter 6. Further Investigations of the Mind-Body Problem 141

Chapter β.5. How to Explain Number Theory at a Dinner Party 175

(Impromptu Minisession: Transcendental Numbers) 175

Chapter 7. The Habit of Clinging to an Ultimate Ground 181

Chapter 8. The Science of Tricks 222

Part III 257

Chapter γ. How to Explain Number Theory at a Dinner Party 259

(Third Session: Congruences) 259

Chapter 9. A Mathematical Dream and Its Interpretation 265

Chapter 10. No Apologies 279

Chapter δ. How to Explain Number Theory at a Dinner Party 311

(Fourth Session: Order and Randomness) 311

Afterword: The Veil of Maya 321

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## Other Books Written by this Author(s)

- Michael Harris
- Michael Harris

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