978-0-06-015433-2 / 9780060154332

Enigmas of Chance: An Autobiography (Alfred P. Sloan Foundation series)





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About the book:

Mark Kac led a life filled with discovery and achievement. Enigmas of Chance, his memoir, traces that life from his youth in Poland through his long and brilliant career in mathematical research in the United States. Among his important contributions to the field of mathematical physics are such prize-winning and classic works as "Can One Hear the Shape of a Drum?" and "Random Walk and the Theory of Brownian Motion."

If the subject of Kac's research seems obscure, Enigmas of Chance is not. From the outset we are introduced to a delightful and brilliant man whose sense of humor and worldliness match his extraordinary abilities. Kac was a rare combination of scholar and teacher whose ability to inspire in others his own enthusiasm for the wonders of mathematics as well as to reveal its mysteries won admiration from both students and colleagues. Kac was "discovered" by his teachers early on, and their expectations were fulfilled when he became a prize student under Hugo Steinhaus, the Polish mathematician, and went on to become an authority in the field of mathematical physics. As well as providing a view of academic life, Kac describes family life and the political climate in Poland before the war, the growing anti-Semitism, and his escape from Poland before Hitler's invasion in 1939. He also writes of his research and teaching at Cornell, at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and at Rockefeller University.

Enigmas of Chance is a rare look at the world of mathematics and physics, with insights and anecdotes that will delight both specialists and generalists alike.

Enigmas of Chance is the sixth book in the Alfred P Sloan Foundation series of memoirs by eminent scientists to be published by Harper & Row.

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