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Gérald Tenenbaum

Math and Words

Gérald Tenenbaum, professor at the Institut Elie Cartan of the University of Lorraine, divides his time between writing and number theory.
Body, derivative, root, matrix, spectrum… Mathematics are expressed using a common language, but what does that language really express? Starting from 30 words with which we have all at one time or another been confronted, the author proposes that we dive into his book to discover the deep meaning of mathematics. The derivative is, granted, a derivation, but in which space? And the root plunges into another level of reality, but which, in fact? The most abstract thinking, if it sometimes invents its own vocabulary, often “falls back,” in the end, onto ordinary language.

By analyzing the words of math by means of history, culture, and linguistics, the author reveals something of the profound meaning of mathematics. An original and colorful way to talk about a discipline reputed to be austere and impenetrable.