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Introduction to Mathematical Thinking Paperback – July 18, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
All my life, I absolutely hated math. I mean the deep pains in my cortex, blood boiling derision of the concepts kind of hatred. I remember being 8 years old and absolutely loathing the thought of studying times tables. Then, variables were added - great, numbers and letters now! No one took the time to explain why we were studying such seemingly needless information. I understand now that I am quite the pragmatist, needing a defined practical application or goal for almost anything I do. Hence the reason I hated mindless calculations so much.
My disdain for the field grew to a point in my teenage years that I could no longer even look at the subject without my well-established biases taking over, driving me away. It affected my SAT score, with a perfect score in verbal comprehension being blemished by an embarrassingly subpar result in math. My educational experience was inhibited for almost two decades, simply because I saw no use for math past counting how many apples I wanted to buy at the grocery. After law school, I became interested in finance. From fairly light interactions with financial valuation methods grew a shameful realization that my hatred for math had caught up with me, finally affecting my daily life. I was a quantitative infant in the worst way, entirely handicapped in a vast and important arena.
Then I found Coursera, and through its curriculum I came across this course. Though I have not finished it, as it has just started, the book has opened my eyes. Math is a language, just like the ones we speak and master. Its algorithms are logical thought, its concepts proven by deductive and inductive reasoning.Read more ›
I wanted to take a look at the free, non-credit classes that Coursera offers and this looked like a good one to try. It has been 30 years since I last took college calculus, and I have not looked at a math book since then. I knew I could do the work, I wanted to see just how a free, non-credit class, with 50,000 students worked.
Both the class and the book are excellent. Devlin begins by showing us that imprecision is often acceptable in spoken English. "One American dies every hour from heart disease" is his favorite example. Literally it says that there is one single American who dies, and apparently recovers, from heart disease every hour. We all understand the true meaning because in English we have background knowledge which allows us to make sense from nonsense based on the context. Mathematics requires precision because with it we will be dealing with concepts with which we do not have the background to guide our understanding.
Dr. Devlin focused on developing logical thinking and managed to arrange the lessons and exercises such that the mathematical logic required quickly evolves from simple "and" "or" statements into doing formal proofs, no small feat for a class only seven weeks long.Read more ›
I am probably missing something simple, but again, the examples are few in numbers (most of the time one), and the logic is not well articulated.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very helpful reference for people who are new to mathematical reasoning and proofs. Also a good introduction to the language of mathematics.Published 1 month ago by neng
This book and the associated Coursera course were transformative. I'm a self-taught programmer of some 20 years who went straight into a career and missed out on the college... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Anthony W. McKinney II
This book is very well written (and priced). I wouldn't say it changed how I thought about math, but it was interesting discourse on how we should think about math rather than the... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Matt
fun and challenging. goes with the Coursera lecturesPublished 11 months ago by E. Spencer Wellhofer