Meet Mr. Polytope

Tony Rothman reviews King of Infinite Space: Donald Coxeter, the Man Who Saved Geometry by Siobhan Roberts, in American Scientist:

Fullimage_20072594638_846Less than the time needed to open a book is required for a prospective reader to understand that the publishers of King of Infinite Space, Siobhan Roberts’s new biography of geometer Donald Coxeter, have cheerfully absorbed the precepts of Hollywood marketeers: Packaged with enthusiastic blurbs from physicist Freeman Dyson, mathematician John Conway, writers Martin Gardner and James Gleick, and historian Peter Galison, not to mention a foreword by Gödel, Escher, Bach author Douglas Hofstadter, the whole is designed, much like full-page movie ads in the New York Times, to render harmless slings and arrows hurled by errant reviewers. In this case, though, one can sympathize with the tactic: It’s a safe bet that few people outside of narrow mathematical circles have ever heard the name Donald Coxeter, despite the fact that many mathematicians regard him as the greatest geometer of the 20th century.

Coxeter’s lack of name recognition is only the first challenge Roberts faces…

More here.