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algebra texts
Posted:
Jan 8, 1997 12:39 PM


Concerning basic abstract algebra texts. I used Herstein's "Topics in Algebra" (2nd ed), as I'm sure many in the math ematical community have. However, I also kept a copy of Fraleigh's book (2nd ed) close by as it was easier to follow. Same for Schaum's outline on Group Theory.
Recently, I purchased a first edition of something called "Abstract Algebra" by Herstein in a used book store. Why did he write this book ? Was there some resistence to his "Topics" ? I recall only 5 students in our class. Maybe it's more popular now ?
I recall a conversion I had with Richard Wilson at Rutgers (circa 1978) where he disuaded me from taking a course in number theory, arguing in favor of abstract algebra's focus on structure. The former, he added, was learned better after a course on complex analysis, and preferably in graduate school (He also talked me out of combinatorics, though I went on to graduate school in probability and statistics).
Is this philosophy still in vague ? Was it ever ? As it turned out, my girldfriend's brother took a course in number theory (taught by Bumby) some time later. I helped him with the proofs in his homework (he was a business/computer science major and had no idea ...). Well, he received a B in his final exam, I read most of the text (Burton) that summer, and later married his sister. So all came out well.
Al Barron



