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- DescriptionOptimists believe this is the best of all possible worlds. And pessimists fear that might really be the case. But what is the best of all possible worlds? How do we define it? This question has preoccupied philosophers and theologians for ages, but there was a time, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when scientists and mathematicians felt they could provide the answer. This book is their story. Ivar Ekeland here takes the reader on a journey through scientific attempts to envision the best of all possible worlds. He begins with the French physicist Maupertuis, whose least action principle, Ekeland shows, was a pivotal breakthrough in mathematics, because it was the first expression of the concept of optimization, or the creation of systems that are the most efficient or functional. Tracing the profound impact of optimization and the unexpected ways in which it has influenced the study of mathematics, biology, ecomics, and even politics, Ekeland reveals how the idea has driven some of our greatest intellectual breakthroughs. The result is a dazzling display of erudition - one that will be essential reading for popular-science buffs and historians of science alike.
- Author BiographyIvar Ekeland is professor of mathematics and economics at the University of British Columbia and director of the Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences. He is the author of several books, including Mathematics and the Unexpected and The Broken Dice, both published by the University of Chicago Press.
- Author(s)Ivar Ekeland
- PublisherThe University of Chicago Press
- Date of Publication09/11/2007
- Place of PublicationChicago, IL
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintUniversity of Chicago Press
- Content Note17 halftones, 10 line drawings
- Weight358 g
- Width153 mm
- Height229 mm
- Spine15 mm
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