Oxford: Clarendon Press. x, 475 p. £ 55.00 (1995).
Since its appearance in 1979 (Zbl 0487.20007
), the first edition of this book has been the
source and reference book for anything involving symmetric functions. In the meantime, interest in important new symmetric functions arose in several different areas, such as zonal polynomials and Jack polynomials. In 1988, Macdonald introduced a family of symmetric polynomials with two parameters, now called ‘Macdonald polynomials’, that contain Schur functions, Hall-Littlewood polynomials, and the aforementioned zonal and Jack polynomials as special cases. Currently there is plenty of research going on on Macdonald polynomials and related topics. Many intriguing problems are still open. Also, in an increasing number of instances it is discovered that Macdonald polynomials play a significant role. The second edition therefore includes two new chapters about these new symmetric functions. Otherwise, the five chapters of the first edition are more or less unchanged, except for a few additions like a section on Schur’s
-functions and a significant enlargement of the examples sections. For those who do not know the first edition I recall that the characteristics of Macdonald’s style are to present the basic theory in the text, which is terse, but precise and to the point, and to have a large list of ‘examples’ at the end of each section (very often larger than the section itself) in which the reader finds a host of more information, examples, applications, and advanced results. Evidently, this second edition (which is twice as large as the first edition) will be the
source and reference book for symmetric functions in the next future.