Timothy Revell

The Secret Lives of Numbers

The Secret Lives of Numbers


Mathematics is undergoing a revolution. Its history is being rewritten.

Mathematics shapes almost everything we do. From building rockets to the handheld technology that governs our day-to-day lives, we are all in debt to the mathematical geniuses of the past. But the history of mathematics is warped; it looks like a sixteenth-century map that enlarges Europe at the expense of Africa, Asia and the Americas.

The Secret Lives of Numbers introduces readers to a new group of mathematical boundary-smashers, those who have been erased by history because of their race, gender or nationality. Kitagawa and Revell bring to vivid life the stories and struggles of mathematicians from every continent: from the brilliant Arabic scholars of the ninth century 'House of Wisdom'; to the pioneering African-American mathematicians of the twentieth century; the first female mathematics professor (from Russia); and the 'lady computers' around the world who revolutionised our knowledge of the night sky.

This groundbreaking, deeply researched book offers a powerful corrective to our shared history. Equally inspiring and iconoclastic, it shows the non-linear, worldwide reality of how mathematics progressed over the past 3,000 years -- and finally puts these trailblazing men and women back on the map.