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Mathematics in Fun and in Earnest Paperback – February 3, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (February 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486449688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486449685
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,084,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
In this book, Court examines a great deal of the philosophical underpinnings of mathematics. While on this journey, he is both profound and humorous, occasionally at the same time. My favorite is the section with the title, "Running around in circles", where he gives mathematical explanations as to why humans lost in the desert or snows and chickens with their heads cut off almost always travel in circles.
He also takes a long, hard and occasional light-hearted look at reasoning, which is the fundamental bedrock of mathematics. Intuition is part of the beginning of any system of mathematics, in the sense that it is often the justification of the postulates. For example, Euclid's first four postulates:

1. A straight line segment can be drawn joining any two points.
2. Any straight line segment can be extended indefinitely in a straight line.
3. Given any straight line segment, a circle can be drawn having the segment as radius and one endpoint as center.
4. All right angles are congruent.

Are all based on intuitive notions that appear obvious. Although mathematicians try to limit the amount of justification by intuition that appears in their structures, one cannot avoid relying on it at some point. Court uses several pages to explain the development of Non-Euclidean geometry and how it is fundamentally counterintuitive. The book closes with a series of basic problems in applied mathematics, including the classic Wolf-Goat-Cabbage and the problem where each of three people take what they believe to be their share although each does it sequentially and without any knowledge of the actions of the others.
There are no great mathematical results in this book; that is in no way the author's intent.
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Format: Paperback
A niclely written book in which the author descripes in a very engaging way different facets of mathematics. He links his topics to personal events and reflects on his understanding of the topic at hand. Makes you feel that you are reading someone description of his life partner.

He further emphasizes that mathematics is not a science but rather an art, and shouyld be treated as such. A very interesting read and a book that I read more than once.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By joe_whatsayee@yahoo.com on October 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
History, problems, issues, and funzies. Quite a survey. I majored in math and discussing this at my interview with the college people who I had to meet may perhaps have shown by enthusiasm for math to be authentic enough that they overlooked some of my weaknesses. I was totally surprised by their question as to what book I had read recently which I liked a lot and could I explain it. I guess I just got lucky.
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