Popularization in Mathematics
Org: Andrew Hare (Saint Mary's)
- ANDREW HARE, Saint Mary's University
"The Enjoyment of Mathematics": a classic text in the popularization of mathematics [PDF]
“Mathematics, because of its language and notation and its odd-looking special symbols, is closed off from the surrounding world as by a high wall. What goes on behind that wall is, for the most part, a secret to the layman.” These are the opening words to that enduring classic of mathematical exposition, “The Enjoyment of Mathematics: Selections from Mathematics for the Amateur”, by Hans Rademacher and Otto Toeplitz. In this talk I examine the choices Rademacher and Toeplitz made in the writing of their text to see what we can learn about a successful effort in popularizing mathematics. What topics did they select? What pictures and figures and diagrams, and why? What metacomments do they make and what is their purpose? What proofs do they choose to do, which do they sketch, and which do they do completely? Some brief comparisons with modern popularizations will be made.