Letters to a Young Mathematician by Ian Stewart

Letters to a Young Mathematician

The first scientific entry in the acclaimed Art of Mentoring series from Basic Books, Letters to a Young Mathematician tells readers what Ian Stewart wishes he had known when he was a student and young faculty member. Subjects ranging from the philosophical to the practical--what mathematics is and why it's worth doing, the relationship between logic and proof, the role of beauty in mathematical thinking, the future of mathematics, how to deal wi...

Details Letters to a Young Mathematician

TitleLetters to a Young Mathematician
Release DateApr 1st, 2006
PublisherPerseus Books
GenreScience, Mathematics, Nonfiction

Reviews Letters to a Young Mathematician

  • Jean
    This book attempts to answer the following questions. 1) Is mathematics a worthwhile career? 2) What being a mathematician is like. 3) What type of jobs/careers are available? The main strength of Ian Stewart’s book is the way he addresses these questions in an entertaining manner. He manages to keep his explicit advice witty and brief.Stewart reviews mathematics from high school to daily life to post docs. He also discusses the importance of m...
  • Holmes
    Being no mathematician myself (and certainly lacking in talent), I don't think I have ever been this engrossed in reading a book about math. I basically devoured it. In fact, I believe anyone can devour it: there are no exotic symbols or scary formulas to put one off; the focus is on the humanistic side rather than the technical side; the book reads almost like a story as the imagined "Meg" (to which the book is supposed to be addressed) grows fr...
  • Angelynn
    This book is amazing! Stewart did a great job in casually describing (to "Meg") what to expect in the life of a mathematician (in academia), as well as the splendor of mathematics. What I really REALLY liked was how the book described the beauty of mathematics in its own right, as well as the beauty of its applications in the real world. As a mathematics PhD candidate, I evidently am aware of the elegance of the subject, so a lot of the descripti...
  • Andrew
    I assigned this book to my Trig class, and they responded mostly well to it. The funniest part is that they were surprised to find that Meg wasn't real. This worked well as a launching point into discovering math all around, and the students still mention how math is everywhere, much to their chagrin/surprise! Sometimes the author was a little long-winded or over their head, but the students sometimes considered actually looking into the strange ...
  • Hamed Zakerzadeh
    "If you publish nothing for five years and then solve the Poincaré conjecture, you'll be set for life, assuming you are allowed to keep your job while you are doing it. If you publish nothing for five years and then fail to solve the Poincaré conjecture, you'll be out on your ear."Please don't get me wrong, I simply liked it and recommend it to everyone (at least who has some interests in math). But in particular, in the first chapters, the boo...
  • Ron Joniak
    Lovely read to prepare the early mathematician for the future. Unfortunately, this book suffers from lack of deep insight and is often very vague. Meg is indeed, not real.
  • sqrt2
    a bit childish, but good, a bit vague but interesting,could have been better,what he says in relation to G.H. Hardy I don't agree with at all and he doesn't demonstrate his claim ..at least not with any clarity and definitely not with any conviction.he de-mystifies certain things when he is actually trying to mystify them.he tried to write for a broad audience and ended up really talking to no one, or rather, not really really reaching anyone.it ...
  • Sofia Lazaridou
    OK,I was out of my element here.My math teacher lend me the book and though it's recommended to high school students but I think if you're a high school student should really like maths and you read books about them then you should read this.I as mostly romance reader couldn't exactly follow the idea of the book because it's plotless.Stewart just talks about maths all by himself.It might had helped if Meg's letters were also inside the book since...
  • Alastair
    Clever, perceptive, genuine -- and, best of all, my favorite genre of non-fiction, which lies somewhere between memoir and essay but with some expertise behind it. Of course writers write about their own lives. It's also gratifying to get advice, even on a topic in which I'm unlikely to be able to follow it. I wish I'd paid more attention to math, or had more inspiring math teachers -- I would have been able to do interesting things with my devel...
  • Charbel
    Letters To A Young Mathematician is a great book if you're looking for a genereal idea of what it's like to do mathematics for a living. It answers many questions, including the old wondering: what is mathematics exactly?The book is a series of letters addressed to an aspiring mathematician called Meg. This is a fresh and interesting way to deliver factual information to the reader, and even a better way to keep track of the author's thinking pro...
  • Paulo Glez Ogando
    This book offers an insight into academics, explaining culture and customs of the mathematical community. Stewart says «Letters to a Young Mathematician is my attempt to bring some parts of G.H. Hardy's A Mathematician's Apology up to date, namely, those parts taht might influence the decisions of a young person contemplating a degree in mathematics and a possible career in the subject».So, this is a must-read for those who are contemplating a ...
  • Sarah
    I'm not quite sure when I picked up this book (or if it was possibly a gift at some point?), but it's definitely one that I would use quotations from if I ever went back to teaching in a math classroom. There are some very good lines about what math is and what it means to pursue it, as one would expect in a book based on the premise of giving advice to a mathematician just starting out. It was particularly neat to see the progression across time...
  • Baby Adam
    I found the beginning a little basic, but of course I'm not really the target audience, especially the first half or so of the book. I think this would've been really helpful to have as a companion for advice over the various stages of my education. The book is very good at giving an accurate account of what it's like on the road to becoming a mathematician. I enjoyed how everything was very relatable, but I do think Stewart was maybe a bit cynic...
  • Cynthia
    I liked this book, because it points out a lot of things people don't realize about math. At parts, it would be too complicated for a "non math" person to enjoy. It struck me about halfway through how privileged his whole experience has been. Toward the end he states that math is a talent that some people just don't have. That's where I stopped enjoying this book. It improved again at the end, but I lost a lost of love for this book. In general, ...
  • Xuan
    In the end of this book, I wish I would have known this book when I started college. But it's never too late to begin. The book is written in a nice polish style, with a lot of examples and precious personal experiences as well as good advices. It gives an insight of becoming and being mathematicians and it's inspiring. I recommend it to anyone who loves mathematics, who wants to become mathematicians, especially young people.
  • Emily
    I quite liked this one. A book of letters from a famous mathematician to his fictional (?) niece - over the course of a few decades - it starts when she's a young student and ends mid-career. A joy to read. Folks who are math-oriented in some way or interested in research may enjoy it as well.
  • Michael Yu
    Not a really tense math book, but you can read at your bedtime. You will find some statements are good, but only after your own thinking.
  • Rafalp
    Quite boring
  • Hind
    A series of letters to (a fictional?) Meg, meditations on doing mathematics through high school to research professorship
  • Dan
    A really good overview of what's it like to be a mathematician.
  • Jenni Elyse
    For a book about math, it was pretty interesting. Not my typical read, though.
  • Abhishek Choudhary 'SmritiAbhi'
    Pretty good, comprehensive summary of what being a mathematician is about. Could have gone deeper in the technical aspects.
  • Anju Mai
    I enjoyed this book. It was humorous and educational. I wrote some notes in the margin and intend to research certain topics more.
  • Shiyue Li
    "No one drifts into Mathematics."
  • Erik Lokensgaard
    I found this book to be a fun, quick read. I'm going to use some of his examples in the classroom.
  • Esther
    Beautiful and sincere. Sometimes funny, sometimes touching.
  • Sara Mira
    I recommend this book to all people interested in math or physics. This theme didn't quite interested me, that's with the 2 stars.
  • Dan
    The first half of the book didn't feel like it was written to the "young mathematician" and contained a lot of facts which, I guess, any undergrad mathematics student has already come across. Having said that, I wish I read that first half while still being in high school.The second half was much more relevant to me personally and lived up to its title. I quite enjoyed this part and learned a handful of "tricks of the trade".
  • Thalia
    The letter format of this book was wonderful, and although I felt myself wanting to read the letters from Meg also, Stewart did great summarizing what she "asked about" before beginning to expound upon different topics. As someone who majored in mathematics in college, It was nice to be able to relate directly to the entirety of the first half of the book, including the points where Meg hit a snag and was trying to find direction. This was all-en...
  • Zoe
    As the title suggests, this book is written in the form of letters to a "young mathematician", offering advice and generally discussing what mathematics is and what it means to be a mathematician. The back cover promises that it "tells readers what world renowned mathematician Ian Stewart wishes he had known when he was a student", and I was intrigued because I had a mixed experience with mathematics in university and always wondered what I could...