From the Publisher
This is a new printing, the first inexpensive one, of one of the most honored histories of mathematics of all time. When the last revised edition appeared in 1908, it was hailed by mathematicians and laymen alike, and it remains one of the clearest, most authoritative, and most accurate works in the field. Mathematicians welcomed it as a lucid overview of the development of mathematics down through the centuries. Laymen welcomed it as a work which gave them an opportunity to understand the development of one of the most recondite and difficult of all intellectual endeavors, and the individual contributions of its great men.
In this standard work, Dr. Ball treats hundreds of figures and schools that have been instrumental in the development of mathematics from the Egyptians and Phoenicians to such giants of the 19th century as Grassman, Hermite, Galois, Lie, Riemann, and many others who established modern mathematics as we know it today. This semi-biographical approach gives you a real sense of mathematics as a living science, but where Dr. Ball has found that the biographical approach is not sufficient or suited to presenting a mathematical discovery or development, he does not hesitate to depart from his major scheme and treat the mathematics in detail by itself. Thus, while the book is virtually a pocket encyclopedia of the major figures of mathematics and their discoveries, it is also one of the best possible sources for material on such topics as the problems faced by Greek mathematicians, the contributions of the Arab mathematicians, the development of mathematical symbolism, and the invention of the calculus.
While some background in mathematics is desirable to follow the reference in some of the later sections, most of the book can be read without any more preparation than high school algebra. As a history of mathematics to browse through, or as a convenient reference work, it has never been excelled.