CoLA Maths Library

300px-David_Hilbert_Grab_Wissen

The library of maths books at the CoLA Sixth Form building commemorates our Further Maths students over recent years, and some recent CoLA maths teachers leaving in July 2018, each with a book inscribed for her or him. Two books are inscribed for non-CoLA people, my daughters Daisy and Molly.

Above: the memorial to the great 20th century mathematician David Hilbert, in Göttingen, Germany, carries Hilbert’s words: “Wir müssen wissen. Wir werden wissen”. “We must know. We will know”.

List of books inscribed in honour of students and teachers

Adam Spencer’s Book of Numbers: Rebecca Lydon

The Advent of the Algorithm: Mohaned al-Bassam

Are you smart enough to work at Google?: David Trieu

As easy as pi: Sunneth Lawrence

The Beauty of Geometry: Alex On

Birth of a Theorem: Daniel Huang

The Black Swan: Michelle Villamagua

A Book of Abstract Algebra: Deniz Yukselir

A Cartoon Guide to Statistics: Lou-Lou Batchelor

The Code Book (one copy): Jeffrey Sylvester

The Code Book (the other copy): Victor Vu

The Colossal Book of Mathematics: Megan Francis

A Course of Pure Mathematics: Chloe Harper

Discovering Statistics Using SPSS: Daisy Thomas

As easy as pi: Sunneth Lawrence

e – The Story of a Number: William Bassoumba

Elementary Number Theory: Seun Tijani

Euclid’s Elements: Lara Joseph

Fascinating Fibonaccis: Abdal Mohammad

Fearful Symmetry: David Stewart

Fermat’s Last Theorem: Kelly Ung

Fifty Mathematical Ideas: Genie Louis de Canonville

Finding Moonshine (one copy): William Ginzo

Finding Moonshine (the other copy): Umut Eroglulari

A Friendly Introduction to Number Theory: Connie Tooze

Gamma: exploring Euler’s constant: Hamse Adam

Gödel, Escher, Bach: Tobi Adebari

The Great Equations: Iris Lin

The Hilbert Challenge: Jason Dowsett

How Big is Infinity?: Enoch Denkyirah

How Many Socks Make a Pair?: Susan Okereke

Hyperspace: Helen Hoang

The Information: Aminat Amoo

Introduction to Statistical Analysis for Economists: Rashi Bhatt

The Irrationals: Mya Titus

King of Infinite Space: Lola Behanzin

The Language of Mathematics (Devlin): Onesimus Ekechi

The Language of Mathematics (Land): Brenda Kuekia

Love and Math (one copy): Tegan Hill

Love and Math (the other copy): Aniqa Hussain

Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction: Rose Hemans

Mathematics Higher Level (Core): Molly Thomas

Mathematics of Choice: Megan Francis

The New Turing Omnibus: Reece Jackson

Principia Mathematica: Mugisha Uwiragiye

The Problem-Solver’s Handbook: Conner Lake

Professor Povey’s Perplexing Problems: Javonne Porter

Proofs Without Words: Joan Onokhua

The Secrets of Triangles: Abass Doumbia

The Simpsons and Their Amazing Mathematical Secrets: Bolaji Atanda

Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Danny Ryan

Solving Mathematical Problems: Soner Hasan

The Stanford Mathematics Problem Book: Hannah Gooch-Draper

Statistics: Concepts and Controversies: Jake Spiteri

Street-Fighting Mathematics: Tim Ekeh

Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman: Obi Mereni

A Tour of the Calculus (one copy): Ashley Anigboro

A Tour of the Calculus (the other copy): Jetmir Guri

A Universe from Nothing: Arian Popal

What is Mathematics?: Hayden Leroux

The World of Mathematics, volume 1: Joshim Uddin

The World of Mathematics, volume 2: Dion Miller

The World of Mathematics, volume 3: Wei-Kong Mao

The World of Mathematics, volume 4: Callum Bryson

Why Things Are The Way They Are: Howard Tran

See below for a tour of the bookshelves, including other books than those listed above.


Some thin volumes whose titles would be hard to read from a pic of the bookshelves. Nelsen’s Proofs Without Words is just what the title says: each page is a diagram which proves a result, maybe in trigonometry, arithmetic, or algebra, just by looking. Terry Tao’s Solving Mathematical Problems is in my view the best book on problem-solving.


More thin volumes, including the famous Stanford Mathematics Problems Book.


Second from the left, with the title hard to read, is Hardy’s classic Course of Pure Mathematics.


To the right of Ronan’s Symmetry and the Monster (i.e. on the left of the run of books) are Marcus du Sautoy’s The Music of the Primes, Durell’s Advanced Algebra (an old textbook, but beautifully clear and concise), and Simon Singh’s Fermat’s Last Theorem.


On the left, with the title hard to read, is Freund’s Mathematical Statistics. In the middle, again with the title hard to read, is Serafina Cuomo’s Ancient Mathematics. Newman’s four volumes on The World of Mathematics were my favourite reading when I was a young school student.


There is a second copy of Love and Math here. The shelves also include two copies each of Euclid’s Elements (different editions); of Simon Singh’s The Code Book; of David Berlinski’s A Tour of the Calculus; and of Marcus du Sautoy’s Finding Moonshine. The two blue-ish books with titles hard to read are Ian Stewart’s Does God Play Dice? and Fearful Symmetry.


Courant and Robbins’ What Is Mathematics (far left) is maybe the most famous general-introduction-to-maths book of all time, and with good reason. My general rule has been to keep for myself the postgraduate-level books, and leave with CoLA the undergraduate-level, school-level, and pop-maths books: Russell and Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica is much more difficult than most postgraduate books, but it is such an important text in the history of maths that I thought I should leave it with CoLA. Some students may remember me showing them page 300-odd, where Russell and Whitehead finally comment: “From this proposition it will follow, when arithmetical addition has been defined, that 1+1=2” https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/278974/prove-that-11-2. The book in the middle with the title difficult to read is Burn’s Numbers and Functions, famous as a guide to “the transition from studying calculus in schools to studying mathematical analysis at university”. David Berlinski’s A Tour of the Calculus may be the most “literary” book about mathematics ever written: it’s a very unusual book, and fascinatingly readable.

Chandrasekar’s book is a closely-reasoned account, with very little technical maths, of how quantum effects shape things visible in everyday life.
Feynman’s two books give readable introductions to important sections of mathematical physics.
Emmy Noether’s main work was in abstract algebra, but her First Theorem was part of mathematical physics. It says that if a system has a continuous symmetry property, then there are corresponding quantities whose values are conserved in time. Time translation symmetry gives conservation of energy; space translation symmetry gives conservation of momentum; rotation symmetry gives conservation of angular momentum, and so on.
The Hilbert Challenge is an account of the 23 problems which David Hilbert set for 20th century maths to solve at the International Congress of Mathematicians in 1900, and what’s happened on them. It has a lot of maths, but is well-written enough that you can follow it even if some of the maths goes over your head.
Silverman’s book on number theory written for an American university course designed to attract students whose “majors” are in other fields but have a little school maths background, and an interest in expanding their cultural knowledge to include maths.