A review of Derbyshire’s Unknown Quantity

Unknown Quantity: A Real And Imaginary History of Algebra

Author: John Derbyshire

Year: 2006

Publisher: Joseph Henry Press

ISBN: 030909657X

This was an absolutely fascinating book that I had a very difficult time putting down each night… Many hours of sleep lost to its pages! The book wanders through lots of territory, including rings and fields, different algebras, etc. Derbyshire’s writing style is the perfect mix of fun historical narrative and clearly explained mathematics. The best thing about the book was the depth Derbyshire was willing to go into with the math and the clarity of his explanations – I very seldom felt either confused or like I wish he had given me more.