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Mathematical people. Profiles and interviews. Introduction by Philip J. Davis. (English) Zbl 0559.01024
Published in collaboration with the Mathematical Association of America. Boston-Basel-Stuttgart: Birkhäuser. XVI, 372 p. DM 79.00 (1985).
At the 90th birthday of George Pólya (1977) he was interviewed for the ”Two-Year College Mathematics Journal”. This interview was followed by further interviews with well-known mathematicians appearing in the ”Journal”. The present volume contains all these and some new ones. Further are included an autobiographical essay, reminiscences and some ”profiles” about mathematical people, written by friends of them. The aim of these articles is to give an idea of the personalities beyond the mathematical products. From the preface: ”We hope to demonstrate that mathematicians are a remarkable, diverse group with a wide range of intellectual interests and a full spectrum of personalities.”
So childhood, education, non-mathematical interests (hobbies), family matters play an essential part in the articles, but also the professional career, research interests, valuation of various parts of mathematics, contacts with other famous mathematicians etc. As present-day-issues very often the role of teaching, the relation between pure and applied mathematics and the influence of the computer are discussed. The ”mathematical people” are: Garrett Birkhoff, David Blackwell, Shiing-Shen Chern, John Horton Conway, H. S. M. Coxeter, Persi Diaconis, Paul Erdős, Martin Gardner, Ronald L. Graham, Paul R. Halmos, Peter J. Hilton, John Kemeny, Morris Kline, Donald Knuth, Benoit Mandelbrot, Henry O. Pollak, George Pólya, Mina Rees, Constance Reid, Herbert Robbins, Raymond Smullyan, Olga Taussky-Todd, Albert W. Tucker, Solomon Lefschetz, Stanislaw M. Ulam.
Reviewer: R.Fischer

MSC:
01A80 Sociology (and profession) of mathematics
01-01 Introductory exposition (textbooks, tutorial papers, etc.) pertaining to history and biography
01A65 Development of contemporary mathematics