Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture

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9781582340678: Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture

In the tradition of Fermat's Last Theorem and Einstein's Dreams, a novel about mathematical obsession.

Petros Papachristos devotes the early part of his life trying to prove one of the greatest mathematical challenges of all time: Goldbach's Conjecture, the deceptively simple claim that every even number greater than two is the sum of two primes. Against a tableau of famous historical figures-among them G.H. Hardy, the self-taught Indian genius Srinivasa Ramanujan, and a young Kurt Godel-Petros works furiously to prove the notoriously difficult conjecture. Decades later, his ambitious young nephew drives the defeated mathematician back into the hunt to prove Goldbach's Conjecture. . . but at the cost of the old man's sanity, and perhaps even his life.

Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

Review :

"Every family has its black sheep--in ours it was Uncle Petros." The narrator of Apostolos Doxiadis's first novel, Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture, is unable to understand the reasons for his uncle's fall from grace. A kindly, gentle recluse devoted only to gardening and chess, Petros Papachristos exhibits no sign of dissolution or indolence: so why is he held in such low esteem? One day, his brother reveals all:

'Your Uncle Petros cast pearls before swine; he took something holy and sacred and great, and shamelessly defiled it!' ... 'His gift, of course!' ... 'The great, unique gift that God had blessed him with, his phenomenal, unprecedented, mathematical talent! The miserable fool wasted it; he squandered it and threw it out with the garbage. Can you imagine it? The ungrateful bastard never did one day's useful work in mathematics. Never! Nothing! Zero!'
Needless to say, such apoplexy only provokes the boy's curiosity, and what he eventually discovers is a story of obsession and frustration, of Uncle Petros's attempts at finding a proof for one of mathematics' great enigmas--Goldbach's Conjecture.

The innumerate may initially find this undramatic material for a novel. Yet Doxiadis offers up a beautifully imagined narrative, which reveals a rarefied world of the intellect that few people will ever enter, in which numbers are entirely animate entities, each possessed of "a distinct personality." Without ever alienating the reader, he demonstrates the enchantments of this art as well as the ambition, envy, and search for glory that permeate its apostles. Balancing the narrator's own awkward move into adulthood with the painful memories of his brilliant relative, Doxiadis shows how seductive the world of numbers can be, and how cruel a mistress. "A mathematician is born, not made," Petros declares--an inheritance that proves both a curse and a gift. --Burhan Tufail

From the Publisher :

"A mathematical conjecture unsolved for two centuries; a mathematical genius uncle driven mad trying to solve it; an ambiguous relation with a mathematically-minded nephew; and acute human observation all come together in Uncle Petros to make a very funny, tender, charming and, to my mind, irresistible novel."--Oliver Sacks, M.D.

"Paints a fascinating picture of how a mathematician could fall into a mental trap by devoting his efforts to a too difficult problem."--John Nash, Nobel Laureate, 1994, subject of A Beautiful Mind

"It is brilliantly written-a mathematical detective story of great charm-and it certainly succeeds in capturing much of the spirit of mathematical research."--Sir Michael Atiyah, winner of the Fields Medal and world-renowned mathematician

Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

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Doxiadis, Apostolos
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