Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"An Accidental Man": Review of The Unknowable, by Gregory Chaitin.Reviewed by Marcus Chown. New Scientist, 18 December 1999, page 52.

In his book The Unknowable, Gregory Chaitin describes how he wasinspired by the work of the Kurt Goedel and Alan Turing to become amathematician. Goedel's work in mathematical logic and Turing's work on thefoundations of computing revolutionized mathematics. Today Chaitin is one ofthe pioneers of algorithmic complexity theory, a branch of mathematics thatattempts to measure how difficult it is to solve problems by computer.According to the review, Chaitin finds "randomness at the heart of arithmetic,and therefore of mathematics as a whole." Chown writes, "The Unknowableis Chaitin's enthusiastic and extremely readable exposition of all theseideas."

--- Allyn Jackson

American Mathematical Society