From ancient theorems to high-end jewelry, the infinity math symbol is something that humankind has always gravitated towards. Centuries’ worth of scientists, religious leaders, mathematicians, philosophers, and inventors have attempted to define and explain infinity, and these ten writers harness all that knowledge in a way that builds upon the legacy of their predecessors. Whether you’re a graduate student researching quantum mechanics or an artist who loves the idea of infinity, you’ll find a book on this list that matches your experience level and broadens your understanding of the infinite and finite alike.
1. Infinity and the Mind: The Science and Philosophy of the Infinite (Princeton Science Library)
Leave it to Princeton to publish one of modern man’s most definitive infinity guide. Rudy Rucker employs unconventional methods, such as cartoons and quotations, to study the concept’s possibilities and limitations from mathematical, scientific, and intellectual standpoints.
2. The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity
Let the infinity math tutoring expert take it from here. Steven Strogatz’s easy-to-read treatise turns abstract mathematical concepts into concrete, accessible, and even beautiful stories that capture your interest and don’t let go until the last page. He makes connections between philosophy and symbols, pop culture and integers, and even search engines and algebra, adding a warm and personal touch to some of modern math’s most important theories.
3. From 0 to Infinity in 26 Centuries: The Extraordinary Story of Maths
Another contemporary take on the long history of mathematics, Chris Waring’s academic book is both interesting and enlightening. It packs a big punch into a small number of pages, which are filled with puzzles, anecdotes, and even etymological explorations of everything from Boolean operations to the ultimate infinity math definition.
4. Roads to Infinity: The Mathematics of Truth and Proof
There’s a reason this book won a Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award in 2011. John C. Stillwell is a mathematics professor who gives his pages the same careful, inspiring, and detailed treatment that a master would give his most promising apprentice. In this undergraduate-level masterpiece, complicated infinity math rules are turned into simple ideas, head-scratching proofs are brought to life, and the foundations of logic and set theory are applied in funny, thought-provoking ways.
5. The Art of the Infinite: The Pleasures of Mathematics
After exploring nothingness in his book about zero, Robert Kaplan returns to the thought-provoking world of mathematics with this study of infinity’s journey through the centuries. Both formalist notions and intuitionist beliefs are integrated into this text, which reaches far back into human history to explain the evolution that infinity has experienced, and how it parallels our own understanding of the universe.
6. Visions of Infinity: The Great Mathematical Problems
Fourteen complex infinity math problems are at the heart of Ian Stewart’s critically acclaimed book. A study in hypotheses and history alike, it convinces readers to stay curious about the inner workings of mathematics. Learn about the ongoing struggle to solve some age-old questions, about the limitations and foundations of computer-generated calculations, and about the enchanting effects that numbers can have on human emotions.
7. Satan, Cantor and Infinity: Mind-Boggling Puzzles by Raymond M. Smullyan
Algebra shares a table with magic in Raymond Smullyan’s thought-provoking and entertaining math book. In over 200 different interactive problems, he uses knights, wizards, robots, and magic to guide readers through real-life applications of math’s most romantic symbol. His enchanting narrative clearly explains the relationships between infinity and a multitude of fundamental numbers, symbols, and proofs.
8. L Goes to Plus Infinity (Birkhauser Advanced Texts) Michel Chipot
This hardcover treasure isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re studying applied mathematics or engineering on a graduate level, you’ll enjoy Michel Chipot’s in-depth explanations of differential equations. The book encompasses both linear and nonlinear problems, including more than one complex infinity math equation, and offers exclusive proofs that you can’t find anywhere else.
9. The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch
If you want to know more about knowledge itself, this is the book for you. David Deutsch proves that you don’t have to use dense language and complex, number-heavy formulas to illustrate the progress and possibilities of the human mind. “Ambitious” isn’t a big enough word for his idea of infinity; under the right conditions, he believes that our intellectual possibilities are as limitless as infinity itself.
10. Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity by David Foster Wallace
The late genius David Foster Wallace is better known for his semi-autobiographical novels and twisted short stories, but before his death in 2008, he tackled one of his other favorite subjects: infinity. Wallace’s in-depth exploration of infinity math history is part of W. W. Norton’s “Great Discoveries” series, and it’s chock full of interesting tidbits about the modern-day theories surrounding infinity. Mathematician Georg Cantor sought to solve a centuries-old struggle with the infinite, and it resulted in set theory, a contemporary branch of mathematics that continues to flourish today. Wallace re-imagines those early discoveries and sheds light on infinity’s complicated history.