Books : reviews

Jeremy J. Gray.
The Hilbert Challenge.
OUP. 2000

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 4 May 2004

One hundred years after Hilbert famously unleashed his 23 problems on the mathematical community, Gray brings us up to date with progress on their solution. He concentrates on the wide range of mathematical advances, so we get to see quite a broad scope of the changes in mathematics over the last century, and how prescient Hilbert was in a wide range of areas, from the highly pure to very applied. Gray sets the story in its historical context (which includes two world wars, and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union), which helps explain some of how the trends change as different national mathematical centres wax and wane. A fascinating account, topped of with (a translation of) Hilbert's original lecture.