My mother is not particularly mathematically inclined, so during our phone conversations, I'll often jokingly recommend to her dull math textbooks in case she's suffering from insomnia. Looks like I have a new recommendation for her in Gauss and Jacobi Sums
. To be clear, I don't find this book boring at all. Insanely difficult to get through, maybe, but definitely not dull. Nonetheless, I certainly understand why someone with less of a mathematical bent than I would find it a chore to read.
I recently completed a thesis on cyclotomic primality testing, a mathematical domain that makes heavy use of Gauss and Jacobi sums. My supervisor recommended that I read some passages from Gauss and Jacobi Sums
to familiarize myself with some key exponential sum concepts. What's more, Kenneth Williams used to teach at the university at which I study, so I was glad to pick up the book from the university library for a read-through.
I flipped through Gauss and Jacobi Sums
during a plane trip to Ottawa over the holidays and boy, was it heady stuff. If I didn't know better, I'd say Berndt and Williams have written everything that can be said about the subject in this tome. I was more than a little frightened by the very first page, which recommended that the reader first peruse three or four other number theory textbooks, lest they fail to understand the first chapter of this text. That's the thing about mathematical research in the 21st century—there is simply so much math out there that it takes a lot
of reading to claim a full knowledge of a topic. Oh well; we've all got to start somewhere, and if you can eventually work your way up to this textbook—even if it's all Greek to you (heh)—I think you deserve a pat on the back.