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‘The Fractalist,’ Benoit B. Mandelbrot’s Math Memoir (nytimes.com)
64 points by 001sky 1604 days ago | hide | past | web | 17 comments | favorite

Not a lot of people know this, but the "B" in Benoit B. Mandelbrot's name stands for "Benoit B. Mandelbrot".

What does the B in Benoit Benoit B. Mandelbrot Mandelbrot stand for?


That's a typo

Can anyone recommend other interesting biographies of mathematicians? I personally enjoyed this biography of Alfred Tarski (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Tarski):


I liked Ulam's Adventures of a Mathematician.

William Poundstone's Prisoner's Dilemma is only partly a biography of von Neumann, still a good book. Gian-Carlo Rota's Indiscrete Thoughts is a mash of bits and pieces, largely about mathematical culture and personalities. I thought it was an interesting read.

What I would really like would be a serious tome on Claude Shannon, he plays a bit part in many, many books, but nobody seem to have written specifically about him and his work.

Agreed on Ulam. Also, there are many capsule biographies in William Dunham's "Journey Through Genius".

I really enjoyed Logicomix, a self-aware graphic novel mostly revolving around Bertrand Russell (with appearances by Godel, Wittgenstein, etc.) http://www.amazon.com/Logicomix-An-Epic-Search-Truth/dp/1596...

And delightfully loose with the history. (But they admit to that in the epilogue.)

"The Man Who Loved Only Numbers": http://www.amazon.com/Man-Who-Loved-Only-Numbers/dp/07868840...

A poignant examination of the mathematician Paul Erdős, and his notion of The Book, "an imaginary book in which God had written down the best and most elegant proofs for mathematical theorems."

Also the documentary "n is a number"

Men of Mathematics is both a biography, and an interesting primer on math that I enjoyed tremendously:


It should be noted that it is not considered the most factual account of any of the mathematicians it profiles, but rather a dramatic retelling of anecdotes and "hollywood gossip" [1]. That being said, it is certainly an entertaining read.

[!] Truesdell, C. (1984). An idiot's fugitive essays on science: methods, criticism, training, circumstances. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 0-387-90703-3. "Genius and the establishment at a polite standstill in the modern university: Bateman", pages 423 to 424

"The Man Who Knew Infinity" by Robert Kanigel on Ramanujan is good.

"Georg Cantor" by Joseph Dauben is dense but interesting; it is closer to a mathematical treatment of Cantor's works than a biographical one. Some experience with the basics of analysis would be beneficial, but a surprising amount is developed throughout the book.

I have read and enjoyed some of the other books already mentioned and would add:

* Paul R. Halmos's "I Want to Be a Mathematician... an automathography: http://www.amazon.com/Want-Be-Mathematician-Automathography-...

* Frederick Mosteller's "The Pleasures of Statistics: The Autobiography of Frederick Mosteller": http://www.amazon.com/Pleasures-Statistics-Autobiography-Fre...

Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel by Rebecca Goldstein

I remember reading an excellent biography of von Neumann. But it was in German, and I can't seem to recall the title.

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