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Mathematical Writing (Mathematical Association of America Notes)

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0883850633
ISBN-10: 088385063X
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Editorial Reviews


'The mathematics teacher who is trying to understand what can be gained by using writing or is looking for several examples of how teachers have actually used writing in their mathematics classes will find this book to be an excellent review.' The Mathematics Teacher

Book Description

This is an all-out attack on the problem of teaching people the art of mathematical writing. This book will give aid and encouragement to those wishing to teach a course in technical writing, or to those who wish to write themselves.

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Product Details

  • Series: Mathematical Association of America Notes (Book 14)
  • Paperback: 124 pages
  • Publisher: The Mathematical Association of America (June 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 088385063X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0883850633
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,868,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Donald E. Knuth was born on January 10, 1938 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He studied mathematics as an undergraduate at Case Institute of Technology, where he also wrote software at the Computing Center. The Case faculty took the unprecedented step of awarding him a Master's degree together with the B.S. he received in 1960. After graduate studies at California Institute of Technology, he received a Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1963 and then remained on the mathematics faculty. Throughout this period he continued to be involved with software development, serving as consultant to Burroughs Corporation from 1960-1968 and as editor of Programming Languages for ACM publications from 1964-1967.

He joined Stanford University as Professor of Computer Science in 1968, and was appointed to Stanford's first endowed chair in computer science nine years later. As a university professor he introduced a variety of new courses into the curriculum, notably Data Structures and Concrete Mathematics. In 1993 he became Professor Emeritus of The Art of Computer Programming. He has supervised the dissertations of 28 students.

Knuth began in 1962 to prepare textbooks about programming techniques, and this work evolved into a projected seven-volume series entitled The Art of Computer Programming. Volumes 1-3 first appeared in 1968, 1969, and 1973. Having revised these three in 1997, he is now working full time on the remaining volumes. Volume 4A appeared at the beginning of 2011. More than one million copies have already been printed, including translations into ten languages.

He took ten years off from that project to work on digital typography, developing the TeX system for document preparation and the METAFONT system for alphabet design. Noteworthy by-products of those activities were the WEB and CWEB languages for structured documentation, and the accompanying methodology of Literate Programming. TeX is now used to produce most of the world's scientific literature in physics and mathematics.

His research papers have been instrumental in establishing several subareas of computer science and software engineering: LR(k) parsing; attribute grammars; the Knuth-Bendix algorithm for axiomatic reasoning; empirical studies of user programs and profiles; analysis of algorithms. In general, his works have been directed towards the search for a proper balance between theory and practice.

Professor Knuth received the ACM Turing Award in 1974 and became a Fellow of the British Computer Society in 1980, an Honorary Member of the IEEE in 1982. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering; he is also a foreign associate of l'Academie des Sciences (Paris), Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi (Oslo), Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Munich), the Royal Society (London), and Rossiiskaya Akademia Nauk (Moscow). He holds five patents and has published approximately 160 papers in addition to his 28 books. He received the Medal of Science from President Carter in 1979, the American Mathematical Society's Steele Prize for expository writing in 1986, the New York Academy of Sciences Award in 1987, the J.D. Warnier Prize for software methodology in 1989, the Adelskøld Medal from the Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1994, the Harvey Prize from the Technion in 1995, and the Kyoto Prize for advanced technology in 1996. He was a charter recipient of the IEEE Computer Pioneer Award in 1982, after having received the IEEE Computer Society's W. Wallace McDowell Award in 1980; he received the IEEE's John von Neumann Medal in 1995. He holds honorary doctorates from Oxford University, the University of Paris, St. Petersburg University, and more than a dozen colleges and universities in America.

Professor Knuth lives on the Stanford campus with his wife, Jill. They have two children, John and Jennifer. Music is his main avocation.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Michael Greinecker on September 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
The book is based on lecture notes of a course for Stanford CS students. The lecture notes aren't very polished, but the chatty tone makes good reading. The book is incredibly funny, but some people may not like that.
Guest lecturers include outstanding people like Leslie Lamport and Paul Halmos. The content is excellent, especially the parts about writing proofs. Some parts are of more interest to computer scientists, but most of it is valuable to anyone engaged in mathematical writing.
Despite all the good things, this book doesn't really stand alone and should be complemented with other books, like the one by Krantz.
P.S.: A almost complete TEX version of the book can be found on the web.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By S. Arora on September 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
These are "lecture notes" from a course taught by Knuth. The first third of this pamphlet is extremely useful and should be read by all researchers who are beginning to write technical papers. The remainder of the pamphlet is more spotty in quality and is marred by some needless digressions and ocassional obsession with minutae. In other words, it violates its own advice: it is not concise and to-the-point.

All in all, a useful resource. It is never boring, and as a bonus provides a good idea of Knuth's teaching---which I have never witnessed first hand.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joshua on September 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked up a copy of Knuth's mathematical writing notes when I was a graduate student in computer science (really not that long ago, actually). This book is a great starting point for new technical writers, and it is a great supplement for more experienced writers that want to polish their craft.

This manuscript is a series of Knuth's notes that comment on a variety of topics related to making technical writing both precise and readable. Admittedly, some are more useful than others, but everything considered the useful material is definitely worth the cost.

Knuth provides a lot of do's and don'ts for people who do math-heavy writing, many of which stick with you after one read. I could see how this book could be a useful resource for grad students, post-docs, or researchers/teachers in a number of fields. If more effort was put into refining the material I think that it could have been a much more valuable and definitive book on the subject (I'm not aware of any others, but more texts like this are needed). Still, it is well worth the money.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Glen Ritchie on February 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
Heartily Recommend. Sure, a TeX version may be freely available. However, if you aren't a starving student. Why not help out the MAA and Don Knuth. It isn't as expensive a Hardbound TeX (Five in the Series) are, after all.
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