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A Passion for Mathematics: Numbers, Puzzles, Madness, Religion, and the Quest for Reality 1st Edition

24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471690986
ISBN-10: 0471690988
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Editorial Reviews


""There is really only good advise: Read it!"" (""Zentralblatt MATH"", 1112-7)

From the Back Cover

A smorgasbord of math puzzles, factoids, quotations, trivia, formulas, and much more

Are you fascinated by numbers and want to learn more? Does the vast world of math problems that humans have solved--and the ones we have yet to begin to comprehend--give you goose bumps? If so, this is the book for you. A Passion for Mathematics is an educational, entertaining trip through the curiosities of the math world, blending an eclectic mix of history, biography, philosophy, number theory, geometry, probability, huge numbers, and mind-bending problems into a delightfully compelling collection that is sure to please math buffs, students, and experienced mathematicians alike.

In each chapter, Clifford Pickover provides factoids, anecdotes, definitions, quotations, and captivating challenges that range from fun, quirky puzzles to insanely difficult problems. You'll encounter mad mathematicians, strange number sequences, obstinate numbers, curious constants, magic squares, fractal geese, monkeys typing Hamlet, infinity, and much, much more.

If you love all things mathematical, A Passion for Mathematics will feed your fascination while giving your problem-solving skills a great workout!

""Pickover has published nearly a book a year in which he stretches the limits of computers, art, and thought.""
--Los Angeles Times

""A perpetual idea machine, Clifford Pickover is one of the most creative, original thinkers in the world today.""
--Journal of Recreational Mathematics


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 394 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471690988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471690986
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

From my publisher:

Clifford A. Pickover received his Ph.D. from Yale University and is the author of over 30 books on such topics as computers and creativity, art, mathematics, black holes, religion, human behavior and intelligence, time travel, alien life, and science fiction.

Pickover is a prolific inventor with dozens of patents, is the associate editor for several journals, the author of colorful puzzle calendars, and puzzle contributor to magazines geared to children and adults.

WIRED magazine writes, "Bucky Fuller thought big, Arthur C. Clarke thinks big, but Cliff Pickover outdoes them both." According to The Los Angeles Times, "Pickover has published nearly a book a year in which he stretches the limits of computers, art and thought."
The Christian Science Monitor writes, "Pickover inspires a new generation of da Vincis to build unknown flying machines and create new Mona Lisas." Pickover's computer graphics have been featured on the cover of many popular magazines and on TV shows.

His web site, Pickover.Com, has received millions of visits. His Blog RealityCarnival.Com is one of his most popular sites.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Puzzle and Origami Enthusiast on July 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
Clifford Pickover is clearly proud of his prodigious output of books. Many of his book jackets highlight the fact that he's published one book a year. But at what price? I eagerly grabbed this book only to see some of the same old puzzles resurface that I've seen in two or three of his other books. I get the sense that Pickover has a giant file of math snippets that he reshuffles and repackages with slightly changed themes in each new book.

Don't get me wrong; I think Pickover is a great popularizer of mathematics. I just wish he'd stop recycling the same material.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Ross Ellis on November 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
Clifford A. Pickover, "A Passion for Mathematics," many figures, an answer section, a section of mathematical artwork.

The book is a real treat. Chapter 2, titled "Cool Numbers" (pgs 45-110) is particularly encyclopedic. In this chapter, the reader learns about fascinating numbers and strange number sequences. Topic covered: transcendental numbers, octonions, surreal numbers, obstinate numbers, cyclic numbers, Vibonacci numbers perfect numbers, automorphic numbers, prime numbers, Wilson primes, palindromic primes, Fibonacci primes, Sophie Germain primes, Baxter-Hickerson primes, star-congruent primes, narcissistic numbers, amenable numbers, amicable numbers, p-adic numbers, large palindromes, factorions, hyperfactorials, primorials, palindions and hyperpalindions, exotic-looking formulas for pi, the Golay-Rudin-Shapiro sequence, Mill's constant, wonderful Pochhammer notation, famous and curious math constants (like Liouville's constant, the Copeland-Erdös constant, Brun's constant, Champernowne's number, Euler's gamma, Chaitin's constant, the Landau-Ramanujan constant, the golden ratio, Apéry's constant, and mathematical constants almost too strange to contemplate.)

Other topics: Jesus and mathematics. Why is the number 13 considered unlucky? Who discovered pi? What are "nimbers"? What would happen if everyone's body weight were quantized and came in multiples of pi pounds?

Something for all readers.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Paul Moskowitz on July 11, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In a "Passion for Mathematics", Clifford Pickover takes up where he left off in his widely-acclaimed book "Wonders of Numbers." The passion in the title refers to the work of Ramanujan, a mathematician from India who startled the world with equations seemingly pulled from thin air. Ramanujan credited a goddess, Namagiri, for his inspiration. Thus, part of this work deals with the life and legacy of Ramanujan.

The passion may also refer to Pickover's infatuation with the riddles of mathematics. He deals with classic problems such as that of the Bridges of Konigsberg or the always popular secrets of magic squares. Some of the mathematical investigations are a little further off the beaten track. For example, what is the most forgettable license plate? A friend of Pickover, a physicist, actually has a plate with the string of letters "syzygys." (See "customer image") Is this impossible to remember? Most people may say yes. However, it is easy to recall if you are a solar eclipse devotee or a fan of the musical group of that name. Pickover concludes that the string with the highest entropy (the most disorder) is the most forgettable, e.g., the binary string 11010010.

This is an excellent book for those who would like to share the passion for mathematics of Ramujan and Pickover.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Al Stewart on July 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book quite a bit and found material I had never encountered before in any book. In particular, these novel topics included: Schmidhuber circles (created by some very simple rules), the world's most forgettable license plate, calculating prodigy Rudiger Gamm, and several fascinating snippets on tic-tac-toe.

Pickover has a particularly interesting set of sections that introduce the reader to numbers like Conway's nimbers, octonions, surreal numbers, and related. There's also quite a collection of mathematical constants to ponder: Apery's, Brun's, Chaitin, Champernowne, coincidental, Copeland-Erdös, Euler's gamma, Euler-Mascheroni, fine structure, golden ratio, infinite power tower, Landau-Ramanujan, Liouville, Mandelbrot, Mill's, pi, and Thue.

Finally, the book is littered with great-looking formulas from Ramanujan. Just how could Ramanujan have discovered these gems?

I liked some if the odd prime number contests and challenges, especially the "Triangle of the Gods," where Pickover had asked colleagues to find the first prime number in this interesting growing triangle:














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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Owen O. Shea on May 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
Clifford A. Pickover's book A Passion for Mathematics is a marvellous collection of curious math facts that is sure to please lovers of Recreational Mathematics everywhere.

Pickover's book is filled with math curiosities that will enchant all those with a genuine interest in and love of recreational mathematics.

Pickover's book contains many mathematical gems. Within its covers there are many beautiful and interesting formulas involving the famous math constant, Pi. On page 78 of the book Pickover gives a truly beautiful and wonderful equation involving the two famous transcendentals, Pi and e. This equation illustrates the beauty and harmony that is to be found throughout mathematics.

The book is crammed with extremely interesting number facts. Many delightful puzzles are also packed between its covers.

I particularly liked Pickover's discussion of Sam Loyd's mixed teas puzzle, which illustrates just how good a mathematician Sam Loyd was.

This book will find a very welcome place on my bookshelf. Pickover's book will also be welcomed by all those who like to read about or collect curious mathematical facts and oddities.
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