The Wild Numbers

Philibert Schogt

Four Walls Eight Windows 2000
A book review by Danny Yee © 2000
Mathematician Isaac Swift hasn't been publishing much (and has never made it into the prestigious journal Number), his girlfriend has left him, and his best friend Stan is settling down to marriage. And if that wasn't enough, mathematical crank Mr Vale has descended on the university department where he works. When Isaac finds a solution to the famous Wild Number Problem and Mr Vale accuses him of plagiarism, everything comes unstuck.

The Wild Numbers contains deft invention of imaginary but plausible-sounding mathematics, and captures something of the experience of doing mathematics in an academic setting. It also works as a story, with a psychologically convincing sketch of a mid-life crisis, some vivid secondary characters, and smoothly flowing dialogue and internal monologue. The result is an entertaining morsel, particularly recommended to mathematicians and their friends but accessible to all.

September 2000

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%T The Wild Numbers
%A Schogt, Philibert
%I Four Walls Eight Windows
%D 2000
%O hardcover
%G ISBN 1568581661
%P 159pp