Four Colors Suffice: How the Map Problem Was Solved

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9780713996708: Four Colors Suffice: How the Map Problem Was Solved


On October 23, 1852, Professor Augustus De Morgan wrote a letter to a colleague, unaware that he was launching one of the most famous mathematical conundrums in history--one that would confound thousands of puzzlers for more than a century. This is the amazing story of how the "map problem" was solved.


The problem posed in the letter came from a former student: What is the least possible number of colors needed to fill in any map (real or invented) so that neighboring counties are always colored differently? This deceptively simple question was of minimal interest to cartographers, who saw little need to limit how many colors they used. But the problem set off a frenzy among professional mathematicians and amateur problem solvers, among them Lewis Carroll, an astronomer, a botanist, an obsessive golfer, the Bishop of London, a man who set his watch only once a year, a California traffic cop, and a bridegroom who spent his honeymoon coloring maps. In their pursuit of the solution, mathematicians painted maps on doughnuts and horseshoes and played with patterned soccer balls and the great rhombicuboctahedron.


It would be more than one hundred years (and countless colored maps) later before the result was finally established. Even then, difficult questions remained, and the intricate solution--which involved no fewer than 1,200 hours of computer time--was greeted with as much dismay as enthusiasm.


Providing a clear and elegant explanation of the problem and the proof, Robin Wilson tells how a seemingly innocuous question baffled great minds and stimulated exciting mathematics with far-flung applications. This is the entertaining story of those who failed to prove, and those who ultimately did prove, that four colors do indeed suffice to color any map.


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From the Back Cover:


"I loved Robin Wilson's book on the four color problem, because it gives the history as well as the arguments. The history is presented so entertainingly, and the arguments so lucidly, that I'm sure the book will find a large audience, and delight any audience as much as it did me."--John Conway


"An intriguing historical account of one of the most baffling enigmas in mathematics: the Four Color Theorem. Robin Wilson provides fascinating insights into how mathematicians think, and shows that questions that are simple to ask may not be simple to answer."--Ian Stewart


"Robin Wilson has combined a complete history of the approach that led to the solution of the four color problem with a description of the techniques involved that can be read with pleasure and comprehension by undergraduates as well as professional mathematicians."--Kenneth Appel, University of New Hampshire


About the Author:

Robin Wilson is Head of the Pure Mathematics Department at the Open University and Fellow of Keble College, Oxford University. He is Gresham Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, London, and is a frequent visitor to Colorado College. He has written and edited about 25 books on topics ranging from graph theory via philately, to the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, to the history of mathematics.

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Robin Wilson
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Descripción Penguin Group, London, 2002. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: Very Good. Estado de la sobrecubierta: very good. Third printing. spine slightly rolled. Nº de ref. de la librería 500043294

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Descripción Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated, East Rutherford, NJ, U.S.A., 2002. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: Fine. Estado de la sobrecubierta: Fine. 1st Edition. 262pp w index. Blue endpapers. Beige cloth w crisp silver lettering on spine. Color illustrated DJ clean and without wear, preserved in BroDart cover. Book appears unread. Nº de ref. de la librería 036252

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Descripción Allan Lane, 2002. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: Very Good. Estado de la sobrecubierta: Good. 262 pp, index, illustrations. Dj a bit dusty, edgewear. Boards have light edgewear. Remainder mark to bottom edge. Interior is clean and tight. Nº de ref. de la librería 008981

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Descripción Penguin Group, London, 2003. Hard Cover. Estado de conservación: VG Near Fine. Estado de la sobrecubierta: VG Near Fine. 1st Edition 3rd Imp. Clean copy tight binding, coloured endpapers, unclipped dustwrapper, xii 262 pps. Size: 12mo - over 6¾" - 7¾" tall. Nº de ref. de la librería 004742

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Descripción Princeton University Press, 2002. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: Good. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. May not contain Access Codes or Supplements. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Nº de ref. de la librería 0713996706

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