At last, a math book for people who think they don't like math. Alex Bellos's self-proclaimed "Surprising Excursion Through the Astonishing World of Math" delivers on its promise. You'll meet the numerologist who persuaded Puff Daddy to change his name, a Romanian probability theorist who parlayed his know-how into enough lotteries wins to fund an early retirement in the South Pacific, and the nine-year-old Japanese prodigy who can play a speed-game in which two players quickly alternate saying a word that begins with the last word's last syllable while simultaneously summing 30 three-digits numbers--in 20 seconds!
You'll learn about tangrams, piems, hyperbolic crochet, nature's ubiquitous "golden ratio," the spooky dogma of the bell curve, why origami is on the bleeding edge of theoretical mathematics, how to make $250,000 in the search for ever-larger prime numbers, and how to gamble just a little bit less badly. We missed this book in 2010's "best of" lists, but it's never too late to have this much fun. --Jason Kirk
--This text refers to the
From Publishers Weekly
Unlike in a traditional classroom setting, Bellos's book aims to reintroduce readers into the world of math by wandering off the beaten algebraic path and investigating interesting topics. Bellos, a former international newspaper correspondent, jets off to exotic places to talk to people about mathematical concepts that catch his fancy. Readers learn the remarkable story of how Sudoku became an overnight international sensation only after its developer, a retired judge, worked for six years on a computer program to write the puzzles. In Japan he visits a club whose school-age members can almost instantaneously add up a string of three-digit numbers by visualizing an abacus in their heads. When in America, Bellos finds himself in Nevada, exploring Reno's casino scene with a discussion of why some gamblers win, but most don't. Adult math buffs will be familiar with most of Bellos's discoveries, but his enthusiasm and lively writing-along with helpful charts and graphics-should inspire younger readers to make their own journeys of mathematical exploration.
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