[FOM] Galois and P v. NP

Dana Scott dana.scott at cs.cmu.edu
Sun Aug 15 14:49:08 EDT 2010

I recently heard Peter Neumann (Queen's College Oxford) lecture about
Galois and his history.  Neumann wrote a very interesting review back
in '86 which briefly goes over the story.  He will bring out a new, much
improved version of the collected works in 2012 (Galois' Centenary) with
much commentary and history.  In the meantime his review can be downloaded:

Book Review of Galois Theory by Harold M. Edwards
Graduate Texts in Mathematics 101, Springer-Verlag, 1984
Reviewed by Peter M. Neumann 
Amer. Math. Monthly, vol. 93 (1986), 407-411.

Edwards also published a note (which Springer charges too much for):

Archive for History of Exact Sciences
Volume 41, Number 2, 163-169, DOI: 10.1007/BF00411863
A note on Galois theory
Harold M. Edwards

It appears that -- to say the least -- Galois was not an "easy"
person.  He really did not receive a bad treatment from the establishment,
and, had he lived, he surely would have been able to publish after
revision and expansion.  About the ms. he left, Neumann says:

	"The difficulty lies in his exposition.  Globally he organizes 
	the theory very beautifully and straightforwardly, but locally 
	his explanations show his extraordinary impatience.  The whole 
	paper is really no more than a sketch."

Fortunately, many were about to reconstruct proofs of their own, and the
modern expositions are quite different from the original.

I think the only thing to learn from this history is:  Don't get shot at
age 20!

	Dana S. Scott
	Visiting Scholar
	University of California, Berkeley

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