Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Mathematical Discoveries," by Robert L. Devaney. Review of CelestialEncounters: The Origins of Chaos and Stability, by Florin Diacu and PhilipHolmes. Science, 20 December 1996, pages 2032-2033.

The subject of this book is the development of the field of dynamical systemsand chaos theory, starting with problems of celestial mechanics and the work ofHenri Poincaré. Calling the book "delightful," the reviewer says "Theauthors interweave numerous anecdotes about the personalities involved in thediscoveries with technical details of the mathematical ideas themselves." Somebackground in dynamical systems or chaos theory is necessary for fullappreciation of the book, Devaney notes, but the historical parts areaccessible without that background.