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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2008
Rudy Rucker links mathematics to reality and explains 5 ways we can look at it: in terms of number, space, logic, infinity and information. The concepts explained are rather simple to understand and I'm pretty sure everyone will find some things they didn't know before. Later in a book he argues that "reality as information" may be the most correct view and our universe can indeed be a computational process.
I suggest people whose interest touches corners of math read the book, otherwise you may get bored.
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23 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 1999
In this book Rudy Rucker provides a novel way of classifying mathematical thinking - as number, space, logic, infinity, and information. He uses many standard examples and some more unusual ones such as classifying numbers as small, medium, large and inconceivable. It provides a good introduction for the general reader of mathematics, especially on the mathematical frontier, with such concepts as transfinite numbers, Goedel's incompleteness theorem, and cellular automata theory. It does have some errors, such as calling "Every sex act is sacred", "Every sex act is evil" imply "Some evil acts are sacred"; is a valid logical argument; not so. Consider this interpretation: "Every irrational integer is irrational", "Every irrational integer is an integer"; hence "Some integers are irrational". But in general I would recommend this book to the general reader.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 8, 2010
There's a lot to whet the mathematical appetite in this book. There is also a bit to frustrate and, in places, annoy that appetite. Overall, MT is a very interesting book. For the most part, it is accessible to any reader. In it's closing section -- on Goedel's theorem, decidability, the halting problem, information and related matter -- things get pretty abstruse fast. If you're not already familiar with these topics, it requires an act of considerable concentration to navigate the formalism of these sections. But doing so rewards the effort. I can't say I got (or bothered to labor over) all the details, but I did get the big picture. And it's a pretty breathtaking view. MT is a book I think I'll return to down the road, having done some additional reading on these topics, to ponder some more. A very thought-provoking read for sure.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2002
Really nice survey of important ideas underneath the application of mathematics to real world analysis and understanding. Actually started a company based on one of his "someone should write a progam that ..." statements.
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16 of 24 people found the following review helpful
On the last page of this book, after bouncing around and occasionally relying on cutesy dialogue, the author makes five conclusions. Each appears below, with reviewer comments immediately after

1. The world can be resolved into digital bits, with each bit made of smaller bits.

By definition, a digital bit is irreducible, so the sentence makes no sense.

2. These bits form a fractal pattern in fact-space.

Fractals are noted for having the appearance of complexity, even though they are defined by very simple rules. All information indicates that the rules that define the universe are more complex than the human mind can comprehend.

3. The pattern behaves like a cellular automaton.

A cellular automaton is defined by rules where life and death are determined by the status of neighbors. By their definition, facts do not live or die on the basis of their neighbors.

4. The pattern is inconceivably large in size and dimensions.

No argument here.

5. Although the world started very simply, its computation is irreducibly complex.

The author is the only person that I have ever encountered who considers the world to have had simple origins. The second part is a direct contradiction to statements 1, 2, and 3, particularly 1.

Another distressing situation occurs when the author coins the word numberskulls. An obvious allusion to numskulls and used to refer to people who reduce things to numbers, it is a very poor joke. While this may appeal to those afraid of numbers, it ignores the fact the modern world has a numeric definition.

If you are looking for a book dealing with the world and how it functions, reach past this one and grab "The Emperor's New Mind" by Roger Penrose (Oxford University Press, 1989). It costs a little more, but is well worth it.

Published in Journal of Recreational Mathematics, reprinted with permission.
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on May 13, 2014
I read this book as a high school student in the late 1980's and found it fascinating, engrossing and inspiring. I particularly enjoyed mathematics and computing and I credit books like this one as setting me off on a successful career in Computer Science.

I enjoyed this book so much I looked for some other books by the same author, Rudy Rucker, which led me to his 4D works and his reinvention of Flatland (which then led me to find and read Flatland). I still use Rucker's example of a liquor thief from a different dimension to this day when explaining to my own children 2D/3D and 4D concepts.
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10 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 1999
This is an amazing book for teaching the concepts of mathematical logic, fractals, number theory, and information theory. I have never seen these concepts introduced in such an easy-to-understand fashion. I recommend it highly to anyone with an interest in these concepts. Near the end of the book, it does go a little overboard with the information theory and becomes hard to follow. Happily though, Rucker does a fairly good job of disproving the existence of god via information theory; for those of you prefer to see God in the numbers, here you will be shown that the opposite is the case.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2004
Page 32 gives a chart which shows the evolution of the strands of mathematics from ancient times until the present. This makes the book.
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