A Mathematician's Apology

By G.H. Hardy,

Book cover of A Mathematician's Apology

Book description

A Mathematician's Apology This book is a result of an effort made by us towards making a contribution to the preservation and repair of original classic literature. In an attempt to preserve, improve and recreate the original content, we have worked towards: 1. Type-setting & Reformatting: The complete work has…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked A Mathematician's Apology as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This classic rumination on the nature of mathematics is perhaps the most famous book ever written by a mathematician.

I’ve read it several times, and each time, it brings up another facet of the subject in some new light. Portions of what Hardy says ring eerily true, and seem to be part of the identity, the very DNA, that all mathematicians must surely share. Other parts seem so alien to be almost repugnant – such as his contention that most mathematics we classify as useful is ugly and inelegant.

I’d love to argue face-to-face with Hardy about this highly opinionated…

I read this in one gulp at the age of sixteen, but it has remained part of my mental furniture to this day. There is a story from the First World War of a Cambridge don accosted in the street with a demand to explain why he was not at the front. "Madam, I am the civilisation they are fighting to preserve." Written in a very dark time, it is a celebration of the value of intellectual endeavour independent of practical utility. Beautifully written it gives genuine insight into the nature of mathematical thought.

From T.W.'s list on mathematical life.

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