BookshelfJacob deGroot-Maggetti

The Weil Conjectures: On Math and the Pursuit of the Unknown – Karen Olsson

Thoughts: I found The Weil Conjectures odd—a book-length essay, something I’d more have expected to come across in a literary journal than in the mathematics section of the Kitchener Public Library. Drawing on aspects of pop math, historical fiction and personal memoir genres, Karen Olsson’s book is a succession of short paragraphs depicting in turn André Weil, Simone Weil, Olsson while writing the book, Olsson in college, and various mathematicians from throughout the millenia. While I came away from it with a couple of new ideas about math and a better sense of who Simone Weil was, by the end I was left feeling that I had read a pile of notes, musings and personal recollections rather than a book.

(The notes below are not a summary of the book, but rather raw notes - whatever I thought, at the time, might be worth remembering.)

Olsson, Karen. 2019. The Weil Conjectures: On Math and the Pursuit of the Unknown. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Posted: Dec 24, 2021. Last updated: Aug 31, 2023.