Number Theory: Queen of Mathematics


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- Welcome to Gresham College, and to this book launch of my "Number Theory: A Very Short Introduction," It's one of the latest in the popular series of very short introductions, which Oxford University Press has produced over the past 25 years. I was also fortunate to have been invited to write the very short introduction to combinatorics, which appeared in 2016. I've always been interested in the history of mathematics, and in the book, and in this lecture, you'll meet four of the prime figures who feature throughout my story, the Greek mathematician, Euclid of Alexandria, top right, who wrote his classic texts, "The Elements," in the third century, BC, and who probably didn't look like this. Pierre Fermat on the left, a lawyer in Southern France in the early 17th century. Leonhard, an 18th century Swiss mathematician who is probably the most prolific mathematician of all time, and Carl Friedrich Gauss, a German mathematician who published a classic text on number theory in the year 1801. It was Gauss who claimed that mathematics is the queen of the sciences and number theory is the queen of mathematics. So what is number theory? Basically, it's the branch of mathematics that's primarily concerned with our ordinary counting numbers, one, two, three, et cetera, sometimes called the positive integers, and it's concerned with whether they're odd or even, or are perfect squares or cubes, or can be divided exactly by seven or some other number, or have some other, or have some other such property.