Record Details

Indiscrete Thoughts [electronic resource] / by Gian-Carlo Rota ; edited by Fabrizio Palombi.
Uniform title:
Boston, MA : Birkhäuser Boston : Imprint: Birkhäuser, 1997.
XXIII, 280 p. online resource.
Modern Birkhäuser Classics, 2197-1803
Indiscrete Thoughts gives a glimpse into a world that has seldom been described, that of science and technology as seen through the eyes of a mathematician. The era covered by this book, 1950 to 1990, was surely one of the golden ages of science as well as of the American university. Cherished myths are debunked along the way as Gian-Carlo Rota takes pleasure in portraying, warts and all, some of the great scientific personalities of the period —Stanislav Ulam (who, together with Edward Teller, signed the patent application for the hydrogen bomb), Solomon Lefschetz (Chairman in the 1950s of the Princeton mathematics department), William Feller (one of the founders of modern probability theory), Jack Schwartz (one of the founders of computer science), and many others. Rota is not afraid of controversy. Some readers may even consider these essays indiscreet. After the publication of the essay "The Pernicious Influence of Mathematics upon Philosophy" (reprinted six times in five languages) the author was blacklisted in analytical philosophy circles. Indiscrete Thoughts should become an instant classic and the subject of debate for decades to come. "Read Indiscrete Thoughts for its account of the way we were and what we have become; for its sensible advice and its exuberant rhetoric."--The Mathematical Intelligencer "Learned, thought-provoking, politically incorrect, delighting in paradox, and likely to offend—but everywhere readable and entertaining."--The American Mathematical Monthly "It is about mathematicians, the way they think, and the world in which they live. It is 260 pages of Rota calling it like he sees it... Readers are bound to find his observations amusing if not insightful. Gian-Carlo Rota has written the sort of book that few mathematicians could write. What will appeal immediately to anyone with an interest in research mathematics are the stories he tells about the practice of modern mathematics."--MAA Reviews.
Persons and Places
Fine Hall in its Golden Age
Light Shadows
Combinatorics, Representation Theory and Invariant Theory
The Barrier of Meaning
Stan Ulam
The Lost Café
The Pernicious Influence of Mathematics Upon Philosophy
Philosophy and Computer Science
The Phenomenology of Mathematical Truth
The Phenomenology of Mathematical Beauty
The Phenomenology of Mathematical Proof
Syntax, Semantics, and the Problem of the Identity of Mathematical Items
The Barber of Seville, or The Useless Precaution
Kant and Husserl
Fundierung as a Logical Concept
The Primacy of Identity
Three Senses of “A is B” in Heidegger
Indiscrete Thoughts
Ten Lessons I wish I Had Been Taught
Ten Lessons for the Survival of a Mathematics Department
A Mathematician’s Gossip
Book Reviews.
Journal citation:
Springer eBooks
Linked resources:
Caltech Connect
Record appears in:


 Record created 2017-03-01, last modified 2018-12-18

Rate this document:

Rate this document:
(Not yet reviewed)