As probably most of you have heard by this point, Serge Lang has passed away. He is most famous for his very many math textbooks. My impression was that most people were not fans of his books, but the discussion at Not Even Wrong was much more positive. What do you think? Have you read any of his books? Liked them? Hated them?

I seem to recall an orange book by Lang entitled Algebra. The book was a little tattered, the binding falling apart and the pages a little loose. I also remember complaining quite a bit about this book. Lang had a tendency to rename things like integral domain. In fact, I half-joked he tried to rename multiplication. For that reason, I hated Lang’s books. I am sad that he died though.

I hate this book with a passion. The purpose of a textbook is the imparting of knowledge. If you learned mathematics in a vacuum (or even perhaps in the vaccum milieu of Lang books) then fine, but if you already know some math (and what everyone else calls things) then this book useless. (Hey thanks Serge, your index is pointless)

i also found lang’s _algebra_ useless as a first-year student.

but forget the blue million *math* books: lang was a national treasure

for his amazingly persistent debunkings of bureaucratic b.s.

(in and out of the academy — but especially “in”).

here’s my review of _challenges_:

http://members.aol.com/vlorbik/tenpage/lang.html