The equation that couldn't be solved: how mathematical genius discovered the language of symmetry

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Simon & Schuster,
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What do Bach's compositions, Rubik's Cube, the way we choose our mates, and the physics of subatomic particles have in common? All are governed by the laws of symmetry, which elegantly unify scientific and artistic principles. Yet the mathematical language of symmetry-known as group theory-did not emerge from the study of symmetry at all, but from an equation that couldn't be solved. For thousands of years mathematicians solved progressively more difficult algebraic equations, until they encountered the quintic equation, which resisted solution for three centuries. Working independently, two great prodigies ultimately proved that the quintic cannot be solved by a simple formula. These geniuses, a Norwegian named Niels Henrik Abel and a romantic Frenchman named Évariste Galois, both died tragically young. Their incredible labor, however, produced the origins of group theory. The first extensive, popular account of the mathematics of symmetry and order, The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved is told not through abstract formulas but in a beautifully written and dramatic account of the lives and work of some of the greatest and most intriguing mathematicians in history.
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full_title equation that couldn t be solved how mathematical genius discovered the language of symmetry
author livio mario
grouping_category book
lastUpdate 2017-08-14 05:04:57AM

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author Livio, Mario, 1945-
author-letter Livio, Mario,
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display_description What do the music of J.S. Bach, the basic forces of nature, Rubik's Cube, and the selection of mates have in common? They are all characterized by certain symmetries. Symmetry is the concept that bridges the gap between science and art, between the world of theoretical physics and the everyday world we see around us. Yet the "language" of symmetry, group theory in mathematics, emerged from a most unlikely source: an equation that couldn't be solved.
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subject_facet Diophantine analysis -- History, Galois theory -- History, Group theory -- History, Symmetric functions -- History, Symmetry (Mathematics) -- History
target_audience Adult
target_audience_full Adult
title The equation that couldn't be solved : how mathematical genius discovered the language of symmetry
title_display The equation that couldn't be solved : how mathematical genius discovered the language of symmetry
title_full The equation that couldn't be solved : how mathematical genius discovered the language of symmetry / Mario Livio
title_short The equation that couldn't be solved :
title_sort equation that couldn't be solved how mathematical genius discovered the language of symmetry
title_sub how mathematical genius discovered the language of symmetry