Blog on Math Blogs

Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Trying to figure it out": Review of The Millennium Problems: Seven GreatestUnsolved Mathematical Puzzles of Our Time, by Keith Devlin. Reviewed byJeremy Gray. Nature, 14November 2002.

Gray credits Devlin for his high level of mathematical exposition and successin conveying excitement about the seven unsolved problems (each with US$1 millionreward for its solution) proposed by the ClayMathematics Institute. The reviewer (and Devlin himself) acknowledges thedifficulty in putting forth the nature of each problem for a large audience,since the problems are drawn from different areas of mathematics and eachpresents a challenge even to researchers with extensive knowledge in thesubject. Although Gray hopes the book will inspire mathematically inclinedstudents to pursue mathematics, he also hopes that "readers of Naturewill find this book too easy and want to read something deeper" and predictsthat "there will be other books, by other authors, aimed at readers who alreadyknow more mathematics." The editor notes after the review another book, Dr.Riemann's Zeros: The Search the US$1 million Solution to the Greatest Problem inMathematics, by Karl Sabbagh, published by Atlantic Books.

--- Annette Emerson