James Joseph Sylvester: Life and Work in Letters

Paperback | January 10, 2013

byKaren Hunger Parshall

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In the folklore of mathematics, James Joseph Sylvester (1814-1897) is the eccentric, hot-tempered, sword-cane-wielding, nineteenth-century British Jew who, together with the taciturn Arthur Cayley, developed a theory and language of invariants that then died spectacularly in the 1890s as aresult of David Hilbert's groundbreaking, "modern" techniques. This, like all folklore, has some grounding in fact but owes much to fiction. The present volume brings together for the first time 140 letters from Sylvester's correspondence in an effort to establish the true picture. It reveals - through the letters as well as through the detailed mathematical and historical commentary accompanying them - Sylvester the friend, man ofprinciple, mathematician, poet, professor, scientific activist, social observer, traveller. It also provides a detailed look at Sylvester's thoughts and thought processes as it shows him acting in both personal and professional spheres over the course of his eighty-two year life. The Sylvester whoemerges from this analysis - unlike the Sylvester of the folkloric caricature - offers deep insight into the development of the technical and social structures of mathematics.

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From the Publisher

In the folklore of mathematics, James Joseph Sylvester (1814-1897) is the eccentric, hot-tempered, sword-cane-wielding, nineteenth-century British Jew who, together with the taciturn Arthur Cayley, developed a theory and language of invariants that then died spectacularly in the 1890s as aresult of David Hilbert's groundbreaking, "mode...

Karen Hunger Parshall is Professor of History and Mathematics at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on the life, times, and mathematical work of James Joseph Sylvester.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:340 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.01 inPublished:January 10, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199671389

ISBN - 13:9780199671380

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Table of Contents

1. Negotiating "the world's slippery path"2. Laying the foundation of a theory of invariants3. Battling the authorities and the muses4. Ending and beginning a career5. "Moulding the mathematical education of 55 million" Americans6. Returning home

Editorial Reviews

"...this scholary work...the reviewer knows of hardly any other edition containing such valuable and complete information as is provided here on every topic or person mentioned or allueded to in the letters...Most welcome!" --MATH