Is mathematics a discovery or an invention? Have we invented numbers or do they truly exist? What sort of reality should we attribute to them? Mathematics has always been a way of understanding and ordering the world: from sacred ancient texts and pre-Socratic philosophers to twentieth-century logicians such as Russell and Frege and beyond. In this masterful, elegant book, mathematician and philosopher Paolo Zellini offers a brief cultural and intellectual history of mathematics, from ancient Greece to India to our contemporary obsession with algorithms, showing how mathematical thinking is inextricably linked with philosophical, existential and religious questions—and indeed with our cosmic understanding of the world.
Paolo Zellini is a professor of mathematics at the University of Rome, where his research focuses on numerical analysis and the evolution of mathematical thought. He is the author of the international bestseller A Brief History of Infinity. He lives in Rome. Translator Erica Segre is the acclaimed translator of Carlo Rovelli's many bestselling books for Penguin.