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Graph Theory, 1736-1936

Norman L. Biggs, E. Keith Lloyd, and Robin J. Wilson
Oxford University Press
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The Basic Library List Committee strongly recommends this book for acquisition by undergraduate mathematics libraries.

[Reviewed by
Fernando Q. Gouvêa
, on

Recently, a friend was complaining to me that all the good books go out of print. That, unfortunately, is often the case. Fortunately, however, every so often something really special is reissued, and then it's a time to celebrate.

That's how I feel about Graph Theory 1736-1936, a sourcebook that collects important articles about the subject over the 200 year period mentioned in the title. In the Preface, the authors explain that Euler's famous 1736 article about the bridges of Königsberg provided their starting point, and they chose to end their book with material from 1936 because that was the date of publication of the first full-length book about the subject (by Dénes König).

In all, there are thirty-seven extracts from original sources, some of which were especially translated for this volume. There's a full bibliography, biographical notes on the authors, and even pictures of some of the mathematicians whose papers are included. If you're at all interested in the subject, this one is a must-have.

Fernando Q. Gouvêa is the editor of Focus and MAA Online.

1. Oaths

2. Circuits
3. Trees
4. Chemical graphs
5. Euler's polyhedral formula
6. The four-colour problem - early history
7. Colouring maps on surfaces
8. Ideas from algebra and topology
9. The four-colour problem - to 1936
10. The factorization of graphs
Appendix 1: Graph theory since 1936
Appendix 2: Bibliographical notes
Appendix 3: Bibliography: 1736-1936