Mathematics History ala Hawking
Stephen Hawking, a theoretical physicist, is best known as an author for his The History of Time. Now, somewhat as a surprise, he has edited (with commentary) God Created the Integers: The Mathematical Breakthroughs that Changed History, a compedium of portions of original works of some of the greatest mathematicians.
Spanning 2,500 years, the text traces the work (e.g. proofs, results) of seventeen mathematicians. Most of the "biggies" are here: Euclid, Archimedes, Descartes, Newton, Cauchy, Gauss, Riemann, Boole, Weierstrass, Cantor, Gödel, and Alan Turing. In addition to choosing the mathematicians to be included, Hawking wrote the biography that precedes each mathematician's work...possibly trying to explain the significance of the result.
So...why do I think this book falls short of its goal? First, I disagree with Hawking's choice of mathematicians. For example, how can he include Diophantus...and not include Euler, Leibniz, or Fermat. No justification...no matter how famous the justifier...would ever move Diophantus to this undeserved status. The same is true for some of his other choices. Second, the book suffers from Eurocentrism, giving no credit to Arabic world, the Indian world, the Chinese world, etc.
Admittedly, the 1160page book is of value as a resourceinformation about important mathematicians and a repository of some of their original writings. But...
