The Riemann Hypothesis The Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics

Karl Sabbagh

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

352 Pages



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Since 1859, when the shy German mathematician Bernhard Riemann wrote an eight-page article giving a possible answer to a problem that had tormented mathematicians for centuries, the world's greatest mathematicians have been fascinated, infuriated, and obsessed with proving the Riemann Hypothesis. They speak of it in awed terms, and consider it to be an even more difficult problem than Fermat's Last Theorem (which was finally proved by Andrew Wiles in 1995).

In The Riemann Hypothesis, acclaimed author Karl Sabbagh interviews some of the world-class mathematicians who spend their lives working on the hypothesis—many paying particular attention to "Riemann's zeros," a series of points that are believed to lie in a straight line, though no one can prove it—and whose approaches to meeting the challenges thrown up by the hypothesis are as diverse as their personalities.

Wryly humorous, lively, accessible, and comprehensive, The Riemann Hypothesis is at once a compelling exploration of the people who do math and the ideas that motivate them to the brink of obsession, and a profound meditation on the ultimate meaning of mathematics.


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Karl Sabbagh is the author of seven books, including A Rum Affair (FSG, 2000). He lives near Stratford-upon-Avon in England.
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  • Karl Sabbagh

  • Karl Sabbagh is the author of A Rum Affair, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in the science category, and of five other books. He earned his degree at King's College, Cambridge, before joining BBC Television to produce science documentaries. He has written for numerous publications, including The Sunday Times, New Scientist, The Guardian, and Scientific American. He lives near Stratford-upon-Avon, England.