Saturday, February 02, 2013
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Book Signing @ Kepler's in Menlo Park
Meanwhile the book is selling well and getting a lot of good press. Here's the amazon link:
Thursday, May 24, 2007
The book is available for pre-order
You may go to Princeton University Press or to Amazon to pre-order it.
Thankfully, the reviews have been very good:
Martin Gardner : A Certain Ambiguity is an amazing narrative that glows with a vivid sense of the beauty and wonder of mathematics. The narrator is deeply troubled by the ancient question of whether the objects and theorems of mathematics have a reality independent of human minds. Mixing fiction with nonfiction, A Certain Ambiguity is a veritable history of mathematics disguised as a novel. Starting with the Pythagorean theorem, it moves through number theory and geometry to Cantor's alephs, non-Euclidean geometry, Gödel, and even relativity.
Eli Maor, author of "e: the Story of a Number" and "The Pythagorean Theorem: A 4,000-Year History" : This is a truly captivating thriller that will take you on a whirlwind tour to infinity--and beyond. But be warned: once you start reading, you won't be able to put it aside until finished! A masterly-told story that weaves together criminal law, ancient and modern history, a young man's quest to know his deceased grandfather-and some highly intriguing mathematics.
Keith Devlin, Stanford University, author of "The Math Gene" : This rich and engaging novel follows the path that leads one young person to become a professional mathematician. By deftly blending the young man's story with mathematical ideas and historical developments in the subject, the authors succeed brilliantly in taking the reader on a tour of some of the major highlights in the philosophy of mathematics. If that were not enough, the book also examines, through the minds of its characters, the natures of faith (religious and other) and truth. I am strongly thinking of building a university non-majors math course around this novel.
Joan Richards, Brown University : A Certain Ambiguity is a remarkably good effort to work through some fundamental issues in the philosophy of mathematics in the context of a novel. Crucial to the success of such a venture is creating characters and a plot that are strong enough to hold a reader's interest. Suri and Bal succeed particularly well in the story of Vijay Sahni and Judge Taylor. This well-written book will, I believe, find readers not only among mathematicians, but in a wider audience that is intrigued by mathematical meaning.
Alexander Paseau, University of Oxford : Suri and Bal convey the beauty and elegance--as well as the fascination--of basic mathematical concepts.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
The human heart yearns for absolute truth and certainty. But can we be truly certain about anything—or is everything we believe accidental and meaningless, shaped by the happenstance of genetic and social inheritance? Perhaps mathematics alone, with its uncompromising rigor, can lead us to certainty. In our 90,000 word novel, we examine where mathematics can and cannot take us in the quest for certainty.
Our book will show the reader the following: First, that mathematics can be deeply beautiful—in this regard it is not unlike music or painting; second, that mathematics has profound things to say about whether absolute truth is obtainable; and lastly, that a novel is the best medium through which to convey the excitement and meaning of doing mathematics
Our protagonist, Vijay Sahni, an Indian mathematician, has glimpsed the certainty that mathematics can provide and does not see why its methods cannot be extended to all branches of human knowledge, including religion. Arriving to pursue his academic career in a small New Jersey town in 1919, his outspoken views land him in jail, charged under a little-known Blasphemy law (on the state statute books to this day). His beliefs are challenged by Judge John Taylor, who does not believe that mathematical deduction can be applied to matters of faith. In their discussions the two men discover the power—and the fallibility—of Euclid's axiomatic treatment of geometry, long considered the gold standard in human certainty. In the end both Vijay and Judge Taylor come to understand that doubt must always accompany knowledge.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Numbers and Biology
1) He will count an object more than once before moving on to the next one
2) He ignores some items in front of him completely, or
3) He’ll continue counting even though he has accounted for every item on the list. So unless I stop him he often ends up at nineteen (the largest number he knows) even when I have asked him to count the 3 apples in the fruit basket.
To be sure, he’s got the sequence down. He understands that 1 is followed by 2 is followed by 3 etc. He even understands that counting somehow refers to the number of objects. And he understands the idea of ‘many’. “So many cars,” he’ll observe on the freeway.
But that’s it. He hasn’t grasped yet that counting a set means ticking off each element exactly once. Which if you think about it, is quite an advanced idea. We’re so familiar with the idea, however, that we tend to forget that numbers are merely shorthand notations for the cardinality of sets, and are ultimately the creations of our intelligence. In this they are exactly like groups or rings or transfinite cardinals.
And in a few months as Vir understands the rules governing numbers, he too will think that theyare woven in the fabric of the universe…and are not products of human biology.
Wait I hear you say—won’t any intelligence, at the very least, have to be able to count? I’m not so sure any more. Not sure at all.