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Ballparking: Practical Math for Impractical Sports Questions Paperback – May 1, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
On the positive side, I found this book highly entertaining. The Fermi method of estimating solutions to various problems is very well illustrated. The formulas used are many; they are mostly quite simple and are fun to go through. Also, of particular note is that I found several comments/passages in this book to be absolutely hilarious; in fact, on many occasions I had to take a pause to wipe the tears out of my eyes before continuing on (some of the author's choices of words in various contexts are priceless!).
On the negative side, the author assumes that the reader possesses knowledge of much of the popular lingo commonly associated with various sports. Not being that well-informed, I found myself scratching my head on several occasions because of this; eventually the contexts in most cases made it clear to me what was meant. Also, someone trying to solve the equations presented by using the indicated numbers must be careful to ensure that the units are all consistent - in many cases, some conversions will be necessary. Finally, I found several unfortunate editorial mistakes scattered throughout.
Overall, I enjoyed this book very much. The author's writing style is chatty, friendly, captivating and, as mentioned above, often quite humorous. This book should appeal the most to readers who are familiar with very basic math and physics. If, in addition, they are avid sports fans, then this book will surely be a must.
The book packs a huge amount of useful how-to math information in with an endlessly entertaining amount of useless tidbits (read: the proportion of rat droppings to be found in stadium hotdogs ... though on second thought, maybe that is actually useful info). The author is careful at the beginning to give the disclaimer that the estimations in the book are just that - estimations. Someone else could probably do many of these same problems and come up with slightly - or wildly - different answers, but I think that is precisely his point.
The down-to-earth explanation of how to estimate using the "Fermi" method ("1. Start with what you know ... 2. Build a path by cancelling units ... 3. Use upper and lower bounds ... 4. Be honest ... 5. Enjoy") is illustrated via progressively more intricate problems throughout the book (some of which, I admit, were over my head mathematically at this stage in life).Read more ›
P.S. The grads loved it!