The Neumann prize was established in honour of Peter Neumann, a longstanding supporter of and contributor to the BSHM. The prize is awarded for a book in English (including books in translation) dealing with the history of mathematics and aimed at a broad audience.
There is no further restriction on subject matter, nor on the nationality of the author or the country of publication. The prize of £600 is awarded every two years.
Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman A Mind at Play (Simon & Schuster, 2017)
In this first major book on one of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th century, Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman bring Claude Shannon, the man who loved to ‘tinker’, to life. They eloquently convey how it was that he had such innovative ideas and what motivated him to work on them, and they explain the essentials of information theory and how it shaped the modern world in a charming and illuminating way. As they themselves say, they tell the story from the ‘bottom-up’ and, in their process of discovery, they show their readers the importance of Shannon’s ideas rather than, as so many books about mathematics do, simply tell them. This makes the book supremely readable.
2017 HIGHLY COMMENDED
Norman Biggs Quite Right (Oxford University Press, 2016)
This is an innovative approach to a short history of mathematics: seeing it through the prism of measurement and money. The ideas are described in an accessible way and illustrated with high-quality diagrams and photographs which add richness to the text. The book is both mathematical and a proper history always emphasizing documentary evidence. It is well written with good quick précis at the start of each chapter, and with some unexpected humour. Norman Biggs is an author at the top of his game, easily able to summarise a wide range of thought and thinkers.
2015: Sydney Padua, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage
2013: Jacqueline Stedall. The history of mathematics: A very short introduction
2011: Clifford A. Pickover, The Math Book
2009: Reviel Netz and William Noel, The Archimedes Codex