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Mathematics and Sex Paperback – September 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1741141591
  • ISBN-13: 978-1741141597
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,367,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book is passionate about the role of mathematics in every human activity, and joyful about matters of sex. Dinner-party conversations may never be the same." —Professor Ian Sloan, president, International Council of Industrial and Applied Mathematics

About the Author

Clio Cresswell is a mathematician, writer, and media personality. She is a visiting fellow at the school of mathematics at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

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Customer Reviews

Never thought of the subject in that way before, however it was very interesting reading.
T. Schultz
Maybe she thought personal sex/relationship anecdotes would be funny, but if so, it didn't work with this reader.
Bob Z
I bought this book because of an earlier review that complained about no explanation of the formulae.
M. Hyman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By M. Hyman VINE VOICE on May 5, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book because of an earlier review that complained about no explanation of the formulae. I was hoping that what that really meant is that it was filled with good math and was in depth. Unfortunately, it isn't.

There are some of the chapters that I found very interesting, such as the chapter on attraction cycles. There are other chapters that were really just fluff. Some quick references to some research, and some silly insinuations about the author's bar hopping experiences or lack thereof.

I liked that the book took a number of concepts and translated them to references to mathematics papers.

I disliked that there was not enough math. Formulas are presented without defining any of the terms. So you might be told that an attraction cycle is represented by f(x)= R(x) + a*B(x). But there is no definition of the R function, how the a constant is derived, or the B function. Nor is there a discussion, usually, of the research that went on to define the function and alternatives examined. The book would benefit very much from going into a full definition of the functions, even if it were in an appendix. Instead, you get a little bit of a tease but not enough information to understand.

Likewise, there are cases where the mathematical focus would benefit from a discussion of computer science or engineering techniques. For example, the author describes the complexity of how a dating service might perform similarity matches. She readily admits that she doesn't know what they actually do, so conjectures, makes some references to multidimensional analysis, and more or less leaves it at that.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Lohit S. Dutta on March 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Yes, I agree with the previous reviewers that this book is an informative light hearted romp through the world of mathematical

modelling of one of biology's most important topics: sex. But, I am giving this book only 3 stars since I find it very irritating to be fed with mathematical equations where no attempt has ever been made to explain the various variables or even a rudimentary explanation. This is just plain show and very very detracting!
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Coal Whitewater on May 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
Here is some math for customers considering this book. There are 7 reviews preceeding mine. 5 are right. 2 are wrong.

The reviews that are right have noticed that the book contains no math. The reviews that are wrong have noticed that the book is vaguely about sex. Actually it's not. It's about the difficulty difficulty some academics have in starting a sentence and completing it on the same topic.

The trouble with invoking applied mathematics is that you have to support what you're saying. Therefore when offering an equation or formula you traditionally state what the variables stand for.

I assume that the author has this information but finds it difficult to restate in common English. Almost every topic is concluded in this drift: "Well it would be much too time consuming to explain what this formula means but isn't it nice to know that it exists?"

No. I mean it would be, but we don't know that the formula does exist (hapless readers that we are). To convince us, you have to explain it. Explain: which means state clearly and describe how it works.

Here's an example, misanthropically quoted by MSN this morning.

If you are looking for a mate for life the correct formula is to

go out with 12 people and then choose the next best one after that, which seems to mean better than number 11 but not necessarily as good as number 12. Yes, just ducky, but why is that true?: Sorry, explanation time is over. Exam will be at the sports bar on Saturday night. Don't blow it.

Now look: does this "formula" stand up on its own two feet or is it also drunk and falling off its barstool? Does it still count if all 12 of them dumped YOU? Suppose they were all alcoholics, or verbally abusive?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bob Z on November 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
How do you make maths sexy? Write a book about maths and sex! Trouble is, this book doesn't quite work. If you are already heavily immersed in maths and mathematical modelling, then here are some thought-provoking models that can amusingly be applied to sex. However, anyone unmathematical will see this as simply turning life experiences into a set of gobbledygook equations that add nothing to understanding, and reinforce lots of negative stereotypes about geeky maths.

The author writes rather too often about her sexual past, her personal views on orgasm, etc. It would have been better if she'd avoided personalising it altogether. Maybe she thought personal sex/relationship anecdotes would be funny, but if so, it didn't work with this reader.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
Very much for the non-mathematician (there is nothing requiring any mathematical skill, just interest) this well written and entertaining book demonstrates the ability of incredibly simple models to capture extremely interesting behaviour, and comments wryly on such imprtant issues ;-) as how many people one should date before settling on "the right one".
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