What’s Happening in the Mathematical Sciences


What’s Happening in the Mathematical Sciences is a roughly biennial series of books published by the American Mathematical Society to highlight recent developments in mathematics. The series was begun in 1993 by Barry Cipra, my friend and predecessor in the math writing business. Barry wrote Volumes 1-5 in the series. We shared the responsibility (or the blame, as Barry would probably say) for Volume 6, and I wrote volumes 7-8.

For me, What’s Happening (or WHIMS for short) has been a pleasant change from a lot of my magazine feature writing. When I write articles for magazines, the emphasis is always on what’s happening that week or that month. There are some topics that I simply can’t write about in popular journals, either because they are too difficult to explain in a limited space, or sometimes because I don’t understand them myself! WHIMS gives me an opportunity to take a longer-term view, to reflect on events that have happened within the last couple years, and perhaps to write stories that I missed when they first happened.

You might be wondering, “Will I understand these books?” No matter how difficult the subject matter, I always strive to make the explanations accessible and entertaining to as broad an audience as possible. Most of the chapters should be understandable to readers with a standard high-school education in mathematics. A few of them might require a couple years of undergraduate math. Everything should be understandable to an undergraduate math major. In some ways, I think of math majors as my ideal target audience for these books.

To find out more about the individual volumes, here is where to go:

WHIMS, Volume 6 Amazon page Contents
WHIMS, Volume 7 Amazon page Contents
WHIMS, Volume 8 Amazon page Contents

If you are interested in a specific branch of mathematics, the index below will point you to volume and chapter numbers that relate to your subject. Click on the “Contents” pages for that volume for more detailed information.

Algebra: 7/8
Analysis (calculus): 6/3
Applied mathematics: 6/8, 7/5, 7/9, 8/5
Combinatorics: 6/4, 7/7
Computer science: 6/3, 6/10, 8/1
Differential equations: 6/7, 6/8, 8/3
Dynamical systems: 7/1, 8/2, 8/4
Financial mathematics: 8/3
Geometry: 6/1, 7/3, 7/6, 7/7, 8/2, 8/8
Mathematical biology: 6/8, 8/5
Mathematical physics: 6/9, 7/3, 7/4, 8/6, 8/7
Mathematics history: 7/7
Number theory: 6/5, 6/6, 7/1, 7/2, 8/7
Probability & statistics: 6/9, 8/6
Topology: 6/1, 6/2, 8/9

If you are interested in any of volumes 1-5 (the ones written by Barry Cipra), you can find all the information you want at the AMS website.

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