The "Regional Conference Series in Mathematics", sponsored by the Conference Board of Mathematical Sciences and funded by the National Science Foundation, is one of the longest-running series of research conferences in the mathematical sciences. The goal of these conferences is to provide quick access to the frontiers of research to graduate students and mathematicians interested in learning a new field. Most of the CBMS conferences have led to the publication of expository monographs based on the main lectures. This book is the latest such monograph.
Most of us associate Donald G. Saari with social choice theory via his work on voting and related issues. But Saari has also done a lot of work on the Newtonian n-body problem, and this book reflects his deep knowledge of the subject. As he explains in the preface, the nature of the audience at the conference led him to add quite a bit of introductory and motivational material, and this makes the book particularly valuable. It is of course not an easy book in any sense: the goal, after all, is to get to the frontiers of research. Nevertheless, for readers with the appropriate background who are willing to do a little work, this is the perfect way to learn about a famous (and famously difficult) problem and what mathematicians have been able to do towards its solution.