The Secret Lives of Numbers

The Secret Lives of Numbers

A Global History of Mathematics & Its Unsung Trailblazers


A revisionist, completely accessible and radically inclusive history of maths

'Lively, satisfying, good at explaining difficult concepts' The Sunday Times

Mathematics shapes almost everything we do. But despite its reputation as the study of fundamental truths, the stories we have been told about it are wrong. In The Secret Lives of Numbers, historian Kate Kitagawa and journalist Timothy Revell introduce readers to the mathematical boundary-smashers who have been erased by history because of their race, gender or nationality.

From the brilliant Arabic scholars of the ninth-century House of Wisdom, and the pioneering African American mathematicians of the twentieth century, to the 'lady computers' around the world who revolutionised our knowledge of the night sky, we meet these fascinating trailblazers and see how they contributed to our global knowledge today.

This revisionist, completely accessible and radically inclusive history of mathematics is as entertaining as it is important.


  • Lively, satisfying, good at explaining difficult concepts
    The Sunday Times

About the authors

Kate Kitagawa

Dr Kate Kitagawa is one of the world's leading experts on the history of mathematics. She earned a PhD from Princeton University, taught history at Harvard University and conducted research in the UK, Germany and South Africa. Her first book was a national bestseller in Japan, and she has been named one of the 100 most influential people in Japan by Nikkei Business.
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Timothy Revell

Dr Timothy Revell is a journalist and lapsed mathematician. He is currently the Executive Editor for New Scientist and is based in London. As a reporter and editor, he specialises in technology and mathematics, covering everything from artificial intelligence to the Abel prize. He appears regularly on WNYC's Science Friday, as well as on other podcasts and radio to talk about the latest developments in science. He has a master's degree in mathematics and a Ph.D. in computer science. His first book was Man vs. Maths.
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