Reviews Written by
J. MOLDOVAN








A beautiful work you must have, October 23, 2008
Any practitioner of the famous Bourbaki group would have a brain
implosion if they tried to read this book. Their aversion to
"practical" and "visual" tools in mathematics as opposed to the
rigorous formalisms for which they are justifiably famous is well
documented by Benoit Mandelbrot, amongst others. They would not like
this work.
This book is, first and foremost, a book about beauty with
beautiful ideas and striking visuals. This is deliberately so. As the
author states, "if diagrammatic notation is to succeed, it need not
only be precise, but also beautiful". Of course one would expect that a
book whose subject matter is primarily the many elegant symmetries of
nature would end up dealing with beauty, not only at the mathematical
but also at the visual level. I can testify to the success of Professor
Cvitanović's endeavors on this front. When the book arrived I showed it
to my wife, who has some artistic training and a pluscritical eye for
visuals, (but who certainly can't tell the difference between a casimir
and a casserole). Her response said it all.
To fully appreciate this book you need postgraduate qualifications
in a slew of highly technical subjects and I won't pretend that my
qualifications are anywhere nearly sufficient for this. But I am
mathematically literate enough and have enough formal training, (and
enough interest in many of the topics covered), to recognize that this
is a beautiful and brilliant work which will give me and other readers
years of additional pleasure. I say "additional" because I have been
tracking Professor Cvitanović's web book, from which this print
originates, for a long time now and the contents of this work are not
new to me.
Take note that this is not a textbook or even a standard reference
of any sort and it makes no concessions whatsoever to lack of prior
knowledge. It is primarily a highly technical research monograph about
problem solving. Each chapter launches headfirst into its subject
matter without offering any but the most cursory introduction. The
reader is expected to understand the nomenclature, the context of the
material and be familiar with the mathematics and physics dealt with.
But even with this, the amazing clarity of Professor Cvitanović's
writing shines through. In contrast to the dense and murky scribblings
of many (I might even suggest, most) texts at this level, the writing
in this book as well as the flow of logic, the layout and everything
else which matters is breathtakingly simple and, may I say, beautiful.
The work deserves 10 stars out of 5. (I'm still working on the
mathematics of that!)
I only wish that the good professor would see his way clear to
publishing in hard cover his other web book, ChaosBook.pdf, which is an
equally elegant and valuable work and which aligns much better with
material that I am very familiar with. Perhaps one day...
I strongly urge all interested readers to purchase this book in
hard cover, even if they have the web book version. This is not only
for the considerable value of the book itself, but also as a way of
showing appreciation for the remarkable generosity and altruism of the
author in making the fruits of years of hard labor available for free.


