History of the Theory of Numbers: Vol. 2: History of the Theory of Numbers, Volume 2

Dickson's History is truly a monumental account of the development of one of the oldest and most important areas of mathematics. It is remarkable today to think that such a complete history could even be conceived. That Dickson was able to accomplish such a feat is attested to by the fact that his History has become the standard reference for number theory up to that time. One need only look at later classics, such as Hardy and Wright , where Dickson's History is frequently cited, to see its importance. The book is divided into three volumes by topic.In scope, the coverage is encyclopedic, leaving very little out. It is interesting to see the topics being resuscitated today that are treated in detail in Dickson . The first volume of Dickson's History covers the related topics of divisibility and primality. It begins with a description of the development of our understanding of perfect numbers. Other standard topics, such as Fermat's theorems, primitive roots, counting divisors, the Mobius function, and prime numbers themselves are treated. Dickson , in this thoroughness, also includes less workhorse subjects, such as methods of factoring, divisibility of factorials and properties of the digits of numbers. Concepts, results and citations are numerous. The second volume is a comprehensive treatment of Diophantine analysis. Besides the familiar cases of Diophantine equations, this rubric also covers partitions, representations as a sum of two, three, four or $n$ squares, Waring's problem in general and Hilbert's solution of it, and perfect squares in arithmetical and geometrical progressions.Of course, many important Diophantine equations, such as Pell's equation, and classes of equations, such as quadratic, cubic and quartic equations, are treated in detail. As usual with Dickson, the account is encyclopedic and the references are numerous. The last volume of Dickson's History is the most modern, covering quadratic and higher forms. The treatment here is more general than in Volume II, which, in a sense, is more concerned with special cases. Indeed, this volume chiefly presents methods of attacking whole classes of problems. Again, Dickson is exhaustive with references and citations.