- J. D. Hamkins, A Mathematician’s Year in Japan, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, 2015, 156 pages.

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Years ago, when I was still a junior professor, I had the pleasure to live for a year in Japan, working as a research fellow at Kobe University. During that formative year, I recorded brief moments of my Japanese experience, and every two weeks or so—this was well before the current blogging era—I sent my descriptive missives by email to friends back home. I have now collected together those vignettes of my life in Japan, each a morsel of my experience. The book is now out!

A Mathematician’s Year in Japan

Joel David Hamkins

*Glimpse into the life of a professor of logic as he fumbles his way through Japan. *

*A Mathematician’s Year in Japan is a lighthearted, though at times emotional account of how one mathematician finds himself in a place where everything seems unfamiliar, except his beloved research on the nature of infinity, yet even with that he experiences a crisis.*

Available on Amazon $4.49.

Please be so kind as to write a review there.

The book is currently #6 on Amazon best-sellers in the Japan category, and #43 in mathematics.

Though I haven’t read the book yet but I bet it will be a quite nice reading. Particularly I’m curious to know if it contains some points about the possible cultural differences between Western and Eastern societies like United States and Japan that touched your heart as a visitor who lived there for a fairly long period of time or not. (However the notion of being an “Eastern” society is not absolute because Japan is a Western country from American perspective!)

Publishing this book reminded me one of my discussions with some of my logician colleagues about the necessity of publishing a “new generation of set theory textbooks”.

As a matter of fact any nice and comprehensive textbook will become out of date and will lose its completeness by recent developments of the field when some time passes.

For example in set theory many new facts about large cardinal axioms are found and many useful and widely used forcing techniques which were a part of frontier research trends at their time are now just a part of folklore facts that any student have to be familiar with them.

Of course Jech, Kunen and Kanamori’s books are still good references but they really need some completion and addendum. Set theory lacks a nice and comprehensive book entirely dedicated to introducing different forcing techniques together with some examples of their application. A kind of “forcing encyclopedia” which contains an interesting entry/chapter on each important and widely used forcing notion.

There is also no graduate textbook about the “interactions of forcing and large cardinals”, a topic that is not covered by the exiting books properly and definitely is the backbone of many new consistency proofs via large cardinal axioms.

Also I usually discuss with my friends about those who are possibly the right persons for writing this new generation of set theory textbooks and almost every time we conclude that no one could do the job better than you because you write simply with a special style (possibly developed during your contribution to MathOverflow) which allows the reader to get a deep and clear intuition about the central concepts before falling into complicated technicalities.

It would be really great if some day you write such set theory textbooks. They certainly will be the source of inspiration for many young researchers. And I hope to see you somewhere to get a signed copy! 🙂