Mrs. Ann F. Varela and Dr. Michael F. Shaughnessy (Photo by Dillon Korte)
Mrs. Ann F. Varela and Dr. Michael F. Shaughnessy (Photo by Dillon Korte)

Eastern New Mexico University faculty members Mrs. Ann F. Varela, instructor of mathematics, and Dr. Michael F. Shaughnessy, professor of education, have published a book together about prominent mathematicians. The title of the new book, released by Nova Science Publishers, a New York-based publisher, is "The Life and Times of the World's Most Famous Mathematicians." The new book is part of a series dedicated to distinguished men and women of science, medicine and the arts. The book is also part of a book series dealing with mathematics research developments.

The book is formatted as a unique interview style in its presentation. Dr. Shaughnessy, a curious investigator, posed questions pertaining to the lives, education, and science of mathematicians and invited Mrs. Varela to address each of these areas using her repertoire of expertise. The topics ranged between simple math to complex calculus and many mathematical topics in between. The release features pictures of the men and women who discovered the concepts as well many diagrams conveying the topics in an understandable manner. The book also deals with the personal lives of each of the famous mathematicians.

According to Mrs. Varela, the project "was a lot of work, but I’m glad to have finally finished the book. I was also happy to see that our new library carries the book on its shelves. I think readers of our book will be really surprised to learn what became of these famous mathematicians." Dr. Shaughnessy said that he had "been curious to know where the various mathematical fields of study originated."

The book features 36 famous mathematicians, some of whom are well known to the general public, such as Archimedes, Rene Descartes, Isaac Newton, Alan Turing and Katherine Johnson, the so-called "human calculator" who was featured in a recent film about female engineers and mathematicians called "Hidden Figures." The book also features mathematicians who are well known amongst the mathematicians themselves, such as Hypatia, Euclid, Blaise Pascal, Leonardo Fibonacci, Leonhard Euler, Charles Babbage, James, Maxwell and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Other mathematicians featured are less well known, but nevertheless made significant contributions to the field, such as Joseph Fourier, Ada Lovelace, Stanislaw Ulam and Marie-Sophie Germain.

The lives of these famous mathematicians included fascinating if not startling adventures. For example, Everiste Galois died in a duel. Interestingly, one of the featured mathematicians, Sophia Kovalevskaya, has been blamed for the nonexistence of the Nobel Prize for mathematics, as she was said to have rejected the advances of Alfred Nobel himself. Two of the mathematicians were known to have personally worked on the secret atomic bomb project in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Colleagues of Mrs. Varela and Dr. Shaughnessy read and commented on pre-publication versions of the manuscript.

Colin Hannaford, from Oxford, England, said the book "produces a uniquely engaging presentation of the achievements of the most important men and women in the history of mathematics."

Ms. Lynnette Roller, from ENMU, commented that the authors used "a lively conversational style to bring to life the experiences and contributions of some of our most cherished mathematicians."

Greg Williams, from Presbyterian Ladies College, Australia, said that Mrs. Varela and Dr. Shaughnessy "added an extensive array of graphs and historical pictures to further capture our attention. I recommend this book to professionals and laypeople who have an interest in mathematics and history."

According to Mr. Scott Hendershot, from ENMU, "Ann Varela expertly synthesizes the technical and theoretical aspects of mathematics with the personal lives of mathematicians to create a clear and concise text that is a pleasure to read. Through brief, easy-to-read chapters in response to questions posed by Professor Michael Shaughnessy, the reader is immersed into the world of mathematics, computer science and reasoning. After reading the book, the reader will have a greater understanding of mathematics and mathematicians but will also have completed an enjoyable and memorable reading experience."

Mrs. Varela has been teaching over 25 years in secondary and higher education. She has undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and she has been at ENMU for 20 years. Dr. Shaughnessy has been a faculty member at ENMU since 1983. He is a member of editorial boards for several major education-based journals.

For additional information, contact Mrs. Varela at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and Dr. Shaughnessy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

"The Life and Times of the World’s Most Famous Mathematicians"

ISBN: 978-1-53613-975-4

Chapter 1. Pythagoras of Samos: One of the First Great Mathematicians

Chapter 1. Pythagoras of Samos: One of the First Great Mathematicians

Chapter 2. Hypatia of Alexandria: The First Well-Known Female Mathematician

Chapter 3. Euclid of Alexandria: The Father of Geometry

Chapter 4. Archimedes: Mathematician, Physicist, Astronomer, Engineer, and Inventor

Chapter 5. Leonardo Fibonacci: His Number Sequence and the Golden Ratio

Chapter 6. Rene Descartes: Why Do We Continue to Quote Him?

Chapter 7. Blaise Pascal: A Multi-Talented Man

Chapter 8. Sir Isaac Newton: Mathematician, Philosopher, and Optician

Chapter 9. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: A True Renaissance Man

Chapter 10. Jacques Bernoulli: The Bernoulli Legacy

Chapter 11. Thomas Bayes: Bayes’s Theorem

Chapter 12. Leonhard Euler: Euler’s Number

Chapter 13. Joseph Lagrange: Classical and Celestial Mechanics

Chapter 14. Pierre-Simon Laplace: Traversed Statistics, Math, Physics, and Astronomy

Chapter 15. Joseph Fourier: From Transforms to Egyptology

Chapter 16. Marie-Sophie Germain: The Eavesdropping Student

Chapter 17. Johann Carl Fredrich Gauss: The Gaussian Distribution

Chapter 18. Charles Babbage: The Father of the Computer

Chapter 19. Éveriste Galois: Mathematician Who Died in a Duel

Chapter 20. George Boole: Logic Gates

Chapter 21. Ada Lovelace: World’s First Computer Programmer

Chapter 22. Bernhard Riemann: Precursor to Einstein

Chapter 23. James Clerk Maxwell: Mathematician from Edinburgh to Cambridge and Back

Chapter 24. Georg Cantor: Sets and Set Theory

Chapter 25. Sofia Kovalevskaya: A Woman of Firsts

Chapter 26. Oliver Heaviside: Circuits, Coils, and Signals

Chapter 27. Theodore von Kármán: Flow Patterns and Helicopter Design

Chapter 28. Amalie Noether: A Role Model for Women

Chapter 29. John von Neumann: Explosive Lenses and the Atomic Bomb

Chapter 30. Kurt Gödel: Friend of Einstein and Lover of Mathematical Logic

Chapter 31. Stanislaw Ulam: Bombs and Biometrics

Chapter 32. Alan Turing: Code Breaker

Chapter 33. Katherine Johnson: Human Calculator

Chapter 34. Benoit Mandelbrot: Fractals and Such

Chapter 35. Marina Ratner: A Beautiful Mathematical Mind and Personality

Chapter 36. Maryam Mirzakhani: Moduli Space