A Faulty Survey of Algebra's Roots

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Science  09 Jun 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5779, pp. 1473-1474
DOI: 10.1126/science.1127576

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Unknown Quantity. A Real and Imaginary History of Algebra. By John Derbyshire. Joseph Henry Press, Washington, DC, 2006. 382 pp. $27.95, C$31.95. ISBN 0-309-09657-X.

The author describes his account of what algebraic ideas are like, how they developed historically, and who were responsible for them as written for the nonmathematician, but that has not stopped him from including numerous formulae.