*What Is Mathematics?*

* What Is Mathematics?* is a mathematics book written by Richard Courant and Herbert Robbins, published in England by Oxford University Press. It is an introduction to mathematics, intended both for the mathematics student and for the general public.

Cover of 1996 second edition | |

Author | Richard Courant and Herbert Robbins |
---|---|

Language | English |

Subject | Mathematics |

Publisher | Oxford University Press |

Publication date | 1941 |

ISBN | 0-19-502517-2 |

OCLC | 16608993 |

First published in 1941, it discusses number theory, geometry, topology and calculus. A second edition was published in 1996 with an additional chapter on recent progress in mathematics, written by Ian Stewart.

## AuthorshipEdit

The book was based on Courant's course material.
Although Robbins assisted in writing a large part of the book,
he had to fight for authorship.
Nevertheless, Courant alone held the copyright for the book.
This resulted in Robbins receiving a smaller share of the royalties.^{[1]}^{[2]}

## TitleEdit

Michael Katehakis remembers Robbins' interest in the literature and Tolstoy in particular and he is convinced that the title of the book is most likely
due to Robbins, who was inspired by the title of the essay *What is Art?* by Leo Tolstoy.
Robbins did the same in the book
* Great Expectations : The Theory of Optimal Stopping * he co-authored with Yuan-Shih Chow and David Siegmund,
where one can not miss the connection with the title of the novel *Great Expectations* by Charles Dickens.

According to Constance Reid,^{[2]} Courant finalized the title after a conversation with Thomas Mann.

## TranslationsEdit

- The first Russian
**translation**«Что такое математика?» was published in 1947; there were 5 translations since then, the last one in 2010. - The first Italian
**translation**,*Che cos'è la matematica?*, was published in 1950. А**translation**of the second edition was issued in 2000. - The first German
**translation**"Was ist Mathematik?" was published in 1962. - A
**Spanish****translation**of the second edition,*¿Qué Son Las Matemáticas?*, was published in 2002. - The first Bulgarian
**translation**,*Що е математика?*, was published in 1967. А second**translation**appeared in 1985. - The first Romanian
**translation**,*Ce este matematica?*, was published in 1969. - The first Polish
**translation**,*Co to jest matematyka*, was published in 1959. А second**translation**appeared in 1967. А**translation**of the second edition was published in 1998. - The first Hungarian
**translation**,*Mi a matematika?*, was published in 1966. - The first Serbian
**translation**,*Šta je matematika?*, was published in 1973. - The first Japanese
**translation**,*数学とは何か*, was published in 1966. А**translation**of the second edition was published in 2001. - A Korean
**translation**of the second edition,*수학이란 무엇인가*, was published in 2000. - A Portuguese
**translation**of the second edition,*O que é matemática?', was published in 2000.*

## ReviewsEdit

- What Is Mathematics? An Elementary Approach to Ideas and Methods, book review by Brian E. Blank,
*Notices of the American Mathematical Society***48**, #11 (December 2001), pp. 1325–1330 - What Is Mathematics?, book review by Leonard Gillman,
*The American Mathematical Monthly***105**, #5 (May 1998), pp. 485–488.

## EditionsEdit

- Richard Courant and Herbert Robbins (1941).
*What is Mathematics?: An Elementary Approach to Ideas and Methods*. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-502517-2. - (1996) 2nd edition, with additional material by Ian Stewart. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-510519-2.
- Courant, Richard; Robbins, Herbert (2015).
*Qu'est-ce que les mathématiques ? Une introduction élémentaire aux idées et aux méthodes*. Cassini. ISBN 9782842252045. French**translation**of the second English edition by Marie Anglade and Karine Py. - Courant, Richard; Robbins, Herbert; Stewart, Ian (2002).
*¿Qué Son Las Matemáticas? Conceptos y métodos fundamentales*(in**Spanish**). México, D. F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica. ISBN 968-16-6717-4.**Spanish****translation**of the second English edition. - Courant, Richard; Robbins, Herbert (1950).
*Che cos'è la matematica? Introduzione elementare ai suoi concetti e metodi*(in Italian). Turin: Einaudi. (first Italian**translation**, from the 1945 English edition) - Courant, Richard; Robbins, Herbert (1971).
*Che cos'è la matematica? Introduzione elementare ai suoi concetti e metodi*(in Italian). Turin: Boringhieri. (based on the previous Eianudi's edition) - Courant, Richard; Robbins, Herbert (1984).
*Toán học là gì*(in Vietnamese). Hanoi: Khoa học Kỹ thuật. (Vietnamese**translation**by Hàn Liên Hải from the Russian edition) - Courant, Richard; Robbins, Herbert; Stewart, Ian (2000).
*Che cos'è la matematica? Introduzione elementare ai suoi concetti e metodi*(in Italian). Turin: Bollati Boringhieri. ISBN 88-339-1200-0. (Italian**translation**of the second English edition)

## ReferencesEdit

**^**Page, Warren; Robbins, Herbert (1984), "An Interview with Herbert Robbins",*The College Mathematics Journal*, The Mathematical Association of America,**15**(1): 5, doi:10.2307/3027425, JSTOR 3027425- ^
^{a}^{b}Reid, Constance, Courant in Göttingen and New York. The story of an improbable mathematician. Springer-Verlag, New York-Heidelberg, 1976. ii+314 pp.

- Herbert Robbins,
*Great Expectations: The Theory of Optimal Stopping*, with Y. S. Chow and David Siegmund. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971.

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