A Brief History of Mathematics
December 1, 2010 9:17 PM   Subscribe

A Brief History of Mathematics is a BBC series of ten fifteen-minute podcasts by Professor Marcus du Sautoy about the history of mathematics from Newton and Leibniz to Nicolas Bourbaki, the pseudonym of a group of French 20th Century mathematicians. Among those covered by Professor du Sautoy are Euler, Fourier and Poincaré. The podcasts also include short interviews with people such as Brian Eno and Roger Penrose.
posted by Kattullus (11 comments total) 62 users marked this as a favorite

Haven't seen these podcasts, but Du Sautoy is one of the better popular writers about contemporary mathematics, and a very good group theorist, to boot.
posted by escabeche at 9:46 PM on December 1, 2010

This sounds perfect for me. As an ultra alpha (type, not male), I am strangely attracted to anything with a number. I've tried to watch many instructional video on mathematics, but whenever whatever calculating genius gets out the chalk and turns to the blackboard, I know I'm going to be lost in a matter of 9/9 seconds and it all looks like Euclidean to me. I'm only assuming the role of chalkboards will be minor in these podcasts, so I'll give these a try, thanks for the post!
posted by ouke at 11:24 PM on December 1, 2010

It's well-done, but it should be called "A Brief History of Some Modern Mathematics That Lends Itself to Dramatic Retelling." Mathematics existed long before Newton, and what Du Sautoy presents is far from complete as an attempt to hit the highlights of modern mathematics. Where are Cauchy, Hamilton, Noether, Artin, Turing, Erdos, etc.? I certainly don't blame Du Sautoy for picking and choosing, and for focusing on the personalities and drama surrounding the mathematics. After all, he's trying to get the non-mathematicians interested, but the title is still misleading.
posted by epimorph at 11:45 PM on December 1, 2010

My sense is that it can be assumed that something that is titled a 'brief history' will not be comprehensive.
posted by Kwine at 4:13 AM on December 2, 2010

How does Brian Eno figure into the history of mathematics?
posted by bluefly at 4:53 AM on December 2, 2010

With dyscalculia, this will make my brain implode. I will not watch.

God I hope my son has an incling of math concepts.
posted by stormpooper at 7:46 AM on December 2, 2010

@stormpooper - I hope your son has an inkling of spelling concepts too. ;-)
posted by zeoslap at 9:39 AM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

stormpooper: With dyscalculia, this will make my brain implode. I will not watch.

This is quite easy to follow for people with little mathematical knowhow. It's more about the history of how certain mathematical concepts came into being and how they have affected the modern world. While I recommend starting at the beginning, the Evariste Galois episode is perhaps the most entertaining, at least of the early ones.
posted by Kattullus at 9:52 AM on December 2, 2010

Tangentially related (Bourbaki) is this informative blog post I came across a while ago - Where is the Royal Poldavian Academy?.
posted by unliteral at 3:31 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thank you for posting this.
posted by ltracey at 6:56 PM on December 2, 2010

I really enjoyed this, and passed it on to the Chair of my Math department for fun. I wish they had delved a little more into what each Mathematician did, but that would probably require a) more time and b) visuals.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:56 PM on December 7, 2010

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