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Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Impossibilities: Review of Abel's Proof: An Essay on the Sources andMeaning of Mathematical Unsolvability, by Peter Pesic. Reviewed by FernandoGouvêa. AmericanScientist, September-October 2003, pages 469-470.

Pesic gives an account of Abel's proof of the unsolvability of the quinticequation as well as the history of algebraic equations and attempts to solvethem. Gouvêa feels that Pesic does a good job of introducing readers toan area of mathematics that they are probably unfamilar with, and writes that,"He is quite successful in achieving his first goal [presenting the history ofthe problem], partly successful in giving us access to Abel's proof and mostlyunsuccessful in shedding light on 'the sources of mathematical unsolvability'."

--- Mike Breen