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Love and Math


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Table of Contents

A Guide for the Reader 1. A Mysterious Beast 2. The Essence of Symmetry 3. The Fifth Problem 4. Kerosinka 5. Threads of Solution 6. Apprentice Mathematician 7. The Grand Unified Theory 8. Magic Numbers 9. Rosetta Stone 10. Being in the Loop 11. Conquering the Summit 12. Tree of Knowledge 13. Harvard Calling 14. Tying the Sheaves of Wisdom 15. A Delicate Dance 16. Quantum Duality 17. Uncovering Hidden Connections 18. Searching for the Formula of Love

About the Author

Edward Frenkel is a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, and was previously on the faculty at Harvard University. The winner of the Hermann Weyl Prize in mathematical physics, he has contributed articles to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily News, Slate, and the Scientific American blog.


"I don't know if I've ever used the words love and math together, but this book changed that. In the tradition of his heroes Andre Weil and C. N. Yang, Edward Frenkel writes of the objective beauty of numbers. Like musical notes, they exist apart from the mind, daring us to fathom their depths and assemble them in arcane narratives that tell the story of us. Reading this book, one is compelled to drop everything and give math another try; to partake of the ultimate mystery." --Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files A New York Times Science Bestseller "Powerful, passionate and inspiring." --New York Times "[Frenkel's] winsome new memoir... is three things: a Platonic love letter to mathematics; an attempt to give the layman some idea of its most magnificent drama-in-progress; and an autobiographical account, by turns inspiring and droll, of how the author himself came to be a leading player in that drama." --New York Review of Books "With every page, I found my mind's eye conjuring up a fictional image of the book's author, writing by candlelight in the depths of the Siberian winter like Omar Sharif's Doctor Zhivago in the David Lean movie adaptation of Pasternak's famous novel. Love and Math is Edward Frenkel's Lara poems... As is true for all the great Russian novels, you will find in Frenkel's tale that one person's individual story of love and overcoming adversity provides both a penetrating lens on society and a revealing mirror into the human mind." --Keith Devlin, Huffington Post "Love and Math = fast-paced adventure story + intimate memoir + insider's account of the quest to decode a Rosetta Stone at the heart of modern math. It all adds up to a thrilling intellectual ride--and a tale of surprising passion." --Steven Strogatz, Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics, Cornell University, and author of The Joy of x "Through his fascinating autobiography, mathematician Edward Frenkel is opening for us a window into the ambitious Langlands Program--a sweeping network that interconnects many branches of mathematics and physics. A breathtaking view of modern mathematics." --Mario Livio, astrophysicist, and author of The Golden Ratio and Brilliant Blunders "This very readable, passionately written, account of some of the most exciting ideas in modern mathematics is highly recommended to all who are curious lovers of beauty." --David Gross, Nobel Laureate in Physics "Edward Frenkel mounts a passionate case against math's reputation as an arcane and boring field [and] argues for math's beauty and relevance." --Page-Turner blog, The New Yorker "Part ode, part autobiography, Love and Math is an admirable attempt to lay bare the beauty of numbers for all to see." --Scientific American "The words love and math aren't usually uttered in the same breath. But mathematician Edward Frenkel is on a mission to change that...[in his] book, 'Love and Math' [in which] the tenured professor at the University of California at Berkeley argues that the boring way that math is traditionally taught in schools has led to a widespread ignorance that may have even been responsible for the recession... [the] book tells his personal story and goes on to describe his research in the Langlands program, as well as recent mathematical discoveries that aren't regularly taught in classrooms." --Wall Street Journal "Edward Frenkel's riveting new book made this former math phobe fall for a subject I thought I hated. He worships math with a passion so contagious, you'll be swept away--by both the subject and Frenkel's remarkable journey. When the USSR tried to block him from university based on his Jewish surname, he literally scaled twenty-foot fences to steal into classes. Before age 21, a letter from Harvard invited him to teach, launching a career that includes writing and starring in an erotic film paying homage to Yukio Mishima, Rites of Love and Math. Frenkel's charisma is undeniable. A YouTube video of one Berkeley lecture has over 250,000 views. Not since G.H. Hardy's Mathematician's Apology has one of the field's finest minds clarified the metaphysical beauty of this misunderstood field of inquiry. Math underpins our culture's economy, medical and technological advances, and thought itself. Frenkel's call for math literacy might have staved off our recent economic crisis. This book is not just a love song for a subject and a battle cry for educational reform, it's literary pleasure at its freshest." --Mary Karr, bestselling author of The Liars' Club, Cherry, and Lit "Edward Frenkel's book Love and Math is, quite simply, a love story, one man's declaration of his love for, and romantic description of, the mistress that destiny assigned him. If I had to sum up the book in one word, that word would be passion. The romantic prose, at times poetic, the broad sweep of deep and profound human ideas, and the eternal nature of fundamental questions that continually re-emerge under new disguises, cannot help but bring to mind the great Russian novels of Dostoyevsky, Pasternak, Sholokhov, and all the rest." --Huffington Post "An eye-opening, awe-inspiring, surprisingly accessible testimonial about the journey of one man and the beauty of mathematics." --Barnes & Noble "Frenkel pares the technical details to a minimum as he reflects on the platonic transcendence of mathematical concepts and marvels at their mysterious utility in explaining physical phenomena. Not merely dry formulas in textbooks, the math Frenkel celebrates fosters freedom and, yes, even distills the essence of love. A breathtaking personal and intellectual odyssey." --Booklist "Fascinating... By using analogies, [Frenkel] describes concepts such as symmetries, dimensions, and Riemann surfaces in a way that will enable nonmathematicians to understand them. Whether or not readers develop a love for math, they will get a glimpse of the love that Frenkel has for the subject. Recommended for all readers, math whizzes or not, inclined to be interested in the subject." --Library Journal "Frenkel reveals the joy of pure intellectual discovery in this autobiographical story of determination, passion, and the Langlands program... Frenkel's gusto will draw readers into his own quest, pursuing the deepest realities of mathematics as if it were 'a giant jigsaw puzzle, in which no one knows what the final image is going to look like.'" --Publishers Weekly "A fascinating peek into the author's life and work." --Kirkus Reviews "If you're not a mathematician this book might make you want to become one. And if you are a mathematician you will feel better about your profession." --Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan and Antifragile "Frenkel writes that math 'directs the flow of the universe.' It's as elegant as music and as much a part of our intellectual heritage as literature. He strives to awaken our wonder by taking us on [a] tour of his research, in which he reveals a 'hidden' world few of us encountered in school... Frenkel aims to make it understandable, even beautiful." --New York Times Book Review "Love and Math is a book by a very brilliant Russian-born mathematician, Edward Frenkel, who tells his life story while he's telling you some of the fundamentals of mathematics in language that interested laypeople can understand." --New York Times, Sunday Review, Moshe Safdie "Two fascinating narratives are interwoven in Love and Math, one mathematical, the other personal... Frenkel deftly takes the reader ... to the far reaches of our current understanding. He seeks to lay bare the beauty of mathematics for everyone. As he writes, 'There is nothing in this world that is so deep and exquisite and yet so readily available to all.'" --Nature "Reasoning that some of us are unwilling to engage with maths because we cannot see it, Professor Frenkel relates it tirelessly to things we can. A colourful paean to numbers." --The Guardian (UK)

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