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Mathematics for the Nonmathematician (Dover Books on Mathematics) Paperback – February 1, 1985

ISBN-13: 978-0486248233 ISBN-10: 0486248232

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Morris Kline: Mathematics for the Masses
Morris Kline (1908–1992) had a strong and forceful personality which he brought both to his position as Professor at New York University from 1952 until his retirement in 1975, and to his role as the driving force behind Dover's mathematics reprint program for even longer, from the 1950s until just a few years before his death. Professor Kline was the main reviewer of books in mathematics during those years, filling many file drawers with incisive, perceptive, and always handwritten comments and recommendations, pro or con. It was inevitable that he would imbue the Dover math program ― which he did so much to launch ― with his personal point of view that what mattered most was the quality of the books that were selected for reprinting and the point of view that stressed the importance of applications and the usefulness of mathematics. He urged that books should concentrate on demonstrating how mathematics could be used to solve problems in the real world, not solely for the creation of intellectual structures of theoretical interest to mathematicians only.

Morris Kline was the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including Mathematics in Western Culture (Oxford, 1953), Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty (Oxford, 1980), and Mathematics and the Search for Knowledge (Oxford, 1985). His Calculus, An Intuitive and Physical Approach, first published in 1967 and reprinted by Dover in 1998, remains a widely used text, especially by readers interested in taking on the sometimes daunting task of studying the subject on their own. His 1985 Dover book, Mathematics for the Nonmathematician could reasonably be regarded as the ultimate math for liberal arts text and may have reached more readers over its long life than any other similarly directed text.

In the Author's Own Words:
"Mathematics is the key to understanding and mastering our physical, social and biological worlds."

"Logic is the art of going wrong with confidence."

"Statistics: the mathematical theory of ignorance."

"A proof tells us where to concentrate our doubts." ― Morris Kline

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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Books on Mathematics
  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (February 1, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486248232
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486248233
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

If you like math, this is a very enjoyable and informative read;otherwise I think you will put it down after thumbing through it.
R. H. Pratt
I found that it greatly enriched my understanding of math fundamentals and the thought process leading to the development of mathematical concepts.
Metallurgist
Calculus made easy was the second, before gardners "help" with revisions ) This book is a must read for students of math, and everyone really.
Marc Mest

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Metallurgist TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is the classic text (available in Dover hardbound and paperback editions) for a college course on mathematics for those who are not science majors and probably hated math in high school. Making math interesting for such a group is a tall order, but one that Professor Kline fills admirably. This book is well written, quite informative and a great choice for the target audience and for many who are much more well versed in mathematics. The book starts with numbers and goes through Euclidian geometry, algebra, calculus, statistics, probability theory and some topics in non-Euclidian geometry and advanced algebra. All this is all done from the prospective of the historical development of mathematics and why it is useful to everyone. This is all done in somewhat simplified manner and in a non-condescending tone. I found that this approach enriched my understanding of many mathematical concepts. For instance, I had previously learned the general solution for a quadratic equation as just a formula to be memorized. Professor Kline derives it. He does this by first solving quadratic equations by factoring them. He then shows how an equation that cannot be factored can be solved by a transformation of variables and that the general solution to the quadratic equation is nothing more than a generalized form of this latter approach. In school I learned about the ellipse and parabola from the standpoint of Cartesian geometry. This book first introduces these curves from the standpoint of how they would be drawn with string and a straight edge. This approach eliminates algebraic notation and I think more clearly shows the nature of these curves. There are many other gems in this book.Read more ›
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110 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Steve Stowers on August 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book was originally written as a textbook (for a math-for-the-non-mathematician type course). It can be used as one (though as a textbook it's a bit dated), read cover-to-cover for edification and pleasure (the style is a bit more instructional than the average popular math book), or dipped into here and there for the topics the reader personally finds interesting. With well over 500 pages of fairly small print, there's a lot here, covering a wide variety of topics, with (it seems to me) particular emphasis on history, geometry (of various kinds), and applications of math to physics. If you leaf through the book, you'll find some pages of nothing but text, some pages full of geometrical diagrams, some of equations and formulas, and even a few Renaissance paintings (in the discussion on mathematical perspective). With so much here, readers will probably find some parts more interesting than others--though which parts are the interesting ones may be a matter of personal opinion.
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By MADC on October 2, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not a mathematician. I just happen to use math everyday in my trade. Just the usual stuff you use in finance. But I am interested in math, maybe just for fun (??!!). And I found this book to be very well written, very interesting and also it has a lot of history so you get to learn a lot and maybe in doing so, you also get to understand more clearly things that just pass you by when you were at school but you didn't really grasp them. This is math pageturner..I'm not kidding !!!
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59 of 64 people found the following review helpful By "silpionopen" on August 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
A must have for the mathmatically curious. The subject seaquence is laid out in a logical order. Beginning with the premises of inductive vs. deductive reasoning, basic algebra, geometry, and the Calculus. This is not a good book for becoming proficient in sepcific areas of mathematics, but offered for me at least, a logical reference point for approaching the core sujects. I highly recommend this book for self-study.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Myers VINE VOICE on May 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A spectrum exists in the books written by or about mathematicians and mathematics, and this spectrum is heavily weighted at the extremes. At one end, we have books purely verbal, descriptive and, more often than not, hagiographic in their descriptions of great mathematicians and their discoveries. - I suppose one could denominate these as mathematics groupie books. At the other end of the spectrum, we have straightforward mathematics textbooks, rather dry and boring, which roll off the presses with the regularity of the academic terms. To split the difference, to write a literate, narrative book on mathematics, is to attempt something akin to the labours of Hercules and, in the end, impossible to do perfectly, rather like trisecting an angle. Kline, however, does a bang-up job here, and approaches the limit - so to speak - of what is possible. Good show, Morris! But, as many other reviewers have made clear, this book should have printed across its cover the words above the entrance to Plato's Academy: "Let no man ignorant of mathematics enter here." It is a bit of a catch-22 for someone who wants to learn mathematics but is put off by textbooks; you really have to already possess a fluency in the mathematical tongue, to possess a flair for the subject, in order to appreciate the sweep of this really quite grand book. Some pages of the book are simply equation followed by equation leading to a satisfying simplification or representing a derivation. If you can't follow these steps - sometimes quite involved - then you simply won't arrive at the "Aha!" moments which are the chief delight of this book. To quote Kline, "In his wisdom, Thales perceived what we shall perceive as we follow the story of mathematics, that the obvious is far more suspect than the abstruse.Read more ›
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