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Hardcover | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780262162166 | 222 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | 46 illus.| April 2003
Paperback | $21.95 Trade | £16.95 | ISBN: 9780262661829 | 222 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | 46 illus.| February 2004
eBook | $15.95 Trade | ISBN: 9780262338967 | 222 pp. | 46 illus.| June 2016

Abel's Proof

An Essay on the Sources and Meaning of Mathematical Unsolvability

About the Author

Peter Pesic is Tutor and Musician-in-Residence at St. John’s College, Santa Fe. He is the author of Labyrinth: A Search for the Hidden Meaning of Science; Seeing Double: Shared Identities in Physics, Philosophy, and Literature; Abel’s Proof: An Essay on the Sources and Meaning of Mathematical Unsolvability; and Sky in a Bottle, all published by the MIT Press.


“Pesic's book is a good place to begin to learn about this important piece of intellectual history.”—Fernando Q. Gouvea , American Scientist


“A unique book. Peter Pesic's chronicle of the long road mathematicians traveled toward understanding when an equation can be solved—and when it can't—is enjoyable, lucid, and user-friendly. The author takes pains to credit less familiar names such as Vi'te and Ruffini and requires of his readers no more than basic algebra—and most of that placed conveniently apart from the main text.”
Tony Rothman, Department of Physics, Bryn Mawr College
“Peter Pesic writes about Abel's work with enthusiasm and sensitivity, beautifully evoking this marvelous moment in the development of algebra.”
Barry Mazur, Gerhard Gade University Professor, Harvard University
“Readers of Pesic's fascinating little book will be led to an inescapable verdict: Niels Abel was guilty of ingenuity in the fifth degree.”
William Dunham, Muhlenberg College, and author of Journey through Genius: The Great Theorems of Mathematics
“This book is a splendid essay on Abel's proof that the general quintic cannot be solved by radicals. The author does an excellent job of providing the historical and mathematical background so that the reader can understand why this question is so compelling. The vivid nontechnical style of the text captures the intricate dance of mathematics and the passionate lives of the people involved.”
David A. Cox, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Amherst College