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African Doctorates in Mathematics: A Catalogue

Paulus Gerdes
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Johnny W. Lott
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Paulus Gerdes has undertaken a monumental task in this book, which is intended to include all information that could be gathered on the doctorates of African mathematicians. A goal of the book, mentioned in the preface by the President of the African Mathematical Union, Mohammed H. A. Hassan, is to establish a database of the details of mathematicians currently working in Africa as well as African mathematicians working elsewhere. According to Hassan, this database is needed to allow these mathematicians to network and work together. With this in mind, Gerdes has used many available resources to gather the material for the book. This is an admirable goal, a difficult task, and one that will be helpful to some in the field.

Working as I do with the International Seminar of the Park City Mathematics Institute and as one who is frequently looking for mathematicians/mathematics educators all over the world, I find this catalogue quite helpful. I have to admit being somewhat dismayed at the separation of mathematicians and mathematics educators, especially when some of the mathematicians' dissertation titles are indistinguishable from the dissertation titles of mathematics educators. In the effort to build a repository of resources from Africa, it appears that the division here is archaic and unhelpful. It is interesting to note that I did not have that feeling about the separate listing of female doctorates in mathematics. Perhaps this is because of the continuing need worldwide to recognize and promote women in mathematics and science as role models for young people. At the same time, the entire volume is promoting role models for younger people in Africa and in other nations. Perhaps the separate listing here was also unnecessary.

Gerdes has set a high standard with this book. I applaud his efforts and hope that the African Mathematical Union continues to update the work. Its value in mathematics history cannot be downplayed. It is a reference that should appear in libraries and be used as a resource.

Johnny W. Lott is Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of Mississippi. Additionally, he holds the titles of Professor of Mathematics and Professor of Education. A past president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Dr. Lott is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at The University of Montana. He may be reached at

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