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Never a dull moment : Hassler Whitney, mathematics pioneer

Author: Keith Kendig
Publisher: Providence : American Mathematical Society, [2018] ©2018
Series: Spectrum series.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Hassler Whitney was a giant of twentieth-century mathematics. This biography paints a picture of him and includes dozens of revealing anecdotes. Mathematically, he had a rare detector that went off whenever he spotted a piece of mathematical gold, and he would then draw countless pictures, gradually forging a path from hunch to proof. This geometric path is seldom reflected in the rigor of his formal papers, but  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Electronic books
Biographies
Biography
Additional Physical Format: Print version:
Kendig, Keith, 1938-
Never a dull moment.
Providence, Rhode Island : MAA Press, an imprint of the American Mathematical Society, [2018]
(DLC) 2018023363
(OCoLC)1040073657
Named Person: Hassler Whitney; Hassler Whitney
Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Keith Kendig
ISBN: 9781470449117 1470449110
OCLC Number: 1065386781
Description: 1 online resource (xix, 385 pages) : illustrations
Contents: Some snapshots --
How Hassler chose his genes --
Growing up --
Hassler goes to college --
Early days at Harvard --
The four-color problem : some history and Whitney's contributions to it --
Whitney and the four-color problem : a closer look --
Whitney discovers a big brother to the matrix : the matroid --
Topology : its beginnings --
Topology grows into a branch of mathematics --
Whitney helped revolutionize algebraic topology --
Whitney's extension theorems --
Whitney's weak embedding theorem --
Whitney's strong embedding theorem --
World War II --
From Harvard to the institute : insights on smooth mappings --
Are there decomposition theorems for nonmanifolds? --
After research --
Evolution or revolution? --
Other happenings at the institute --
The unspeakable was about to happen --
Sometimes you get to know people through the little things --
Parting shots : a gallery of photos.
Series Title: Spectrum series.
Responsibility: Keith Kendig.

Abstract:

Hassler Whitney was a giant of twentieth-century mathematics. This biography paints a picture of him and includes dozens of revealing anecdotes. Mathematically, he had a rare detector that went off  Read more...

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This biography paints a picture of him and includes dozens of revealing anecdotes. Mathematically, he had a rare detector that went off whenever he spotted a piece of mathematical gold, and he would then draw countless pictures, gradually forging a path from hunch to proof. This geometric path is seldom reflected in the rigor of his formal papers, but thanks to a close friendship and many conversations over decades, author Kendig was able to see how he actually worked. This book shows this through accessible accounts of his major mathematical contributions, with figures copiously supplied. Whitney is probably best known for introducing the grandfather of today\'s innumerable embedding theorems--his strong embedding theorem stating that any smooth manifold can be smoothly embedded in a Euclidean space of twice the manifold\'s dimension. This in turn led to several standard techniques used every day in algebraic topology. Whitney also established the fundamentals of graph theory, the four-color problem, matroids, extending smooth functions, and singularities of smooth functions. He almost never used complicated technical machinery, so most of his work is accessible to a general reader with a modest mathematical background. His math-music connection was intense: He played piano, violin, and viola and won \"best composition of the year\" while earning a Bachelor\'s degree in music at Yale. He was an accomplished mountain climber, and as a tinkerer, at age fourteen he built the large-format camera used to take this book\'s cover photograph. Whitney\'s family generously provided dozens of photographs appearing here for the very first time. 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