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4.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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(Mar 30, 2010)
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Editorial Reviews

How numbers explain our universe and reveal unseen worlds

Math made accessible, engaging, and relevant

Mathematics forms the foundation for nearly everything we do--from finance to physics, and architecture to astronomy. Math not only describes our world, but also reveals its beauty and mystery. Join Marcus du Sautoy and a host of distinguished experts as they crisscross the globe, bringing the colorful history of numbers to life.

Meet the men and women who conceived major mathematical breakthroughs and explored the farthest frontiers of abstract thought, often with tragic results. Learn how their discoveries still drive technology, science, and even philosophy. Using computerized visuals and healthy doses of humor, Du Sautoy makes the most complex concepts accessible and engaging. With contagious enthusiasm and boundless energy, he shows that math isn’t merely about making calculations, but also about finding patterns that expose the hidden relationships in our universe.

Special Features

  • The Music of the Primes, a 78-minute bonus documentary.
  • 20-page viewer’s guide includes highlights, questions to consider, avenues for further learning, a glossary, a profile of the Pythagorean religious movement, and an explanation of proofs.
  • Biographies of influential mathematicians, and more.
  • SDH subtitles

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Athena
  • DVD Release Date: March 30, 2010
  • Run Time: 232 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00331RHEU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,416 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

I fell in love with this BBC series while studying for a series of math exams. Marcus Du Sautoy is the real deal -- an accomplished mathematician with a knack for storytelling. And the story of maths is indeed a good story! Du Sautoy presents the history of mathematics in a lively and accessibly way, focusing on historical characters and places as well as why a given discovery was or is important. I've watched some of the episodes more than once -- that's how engaging they are. He doesn't skip over the petty squabbles over credit or the cultural context, and that's a big part of what makes the series fun. Even the non-math people I've shared this series with have enjoyed it. Highly recommended for non-mathematical and mathematical audiences alike.
Comment 77 of 80 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I know many of you will read the title of this review and think "well that really sounds hard to believe," or write off my enthusiasm as being a mere post-movie dazzlement effect. Really though, when you think about it, it isn't that hard to believe, is it? How many good Math documentaries are there?

Finding good science documentaries is pretty easy. They're on pretty much any cable channel (or PBS) that features these kinds of programs (NOVA, Scientific American, or other similar programs on channels like the Science Channel, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, etc). But Math documentaries? Those are hard to come by.

This is part of why this documentary is such a gem. Most Math DVDs out there are, in contrast with programs like NOVA that make science interesting, just people explaining formulas in front of a markerboard for an hour. This is not to say there's anything wrong with that, but only to say that there aren't that many production-quality documentaries about Math out there with the goal of entertaining a mass audience while teaching them some interesting facts and priming their interest on the subject.

Since this DVD accomplishes all of that and then some, all with an interesting historical narrative in the background, I can wholeheartedly award it 5 stars. While it isn't hugely more interesting or well-done than a comparable science episode about physics or something on NOVA, it is nonetheless almost the best in its class (Math documentaries) because so few of these types of movies exist in the first place.

Being the first of its kind that I've come across be so successful in this way, I'm happy to give it 5 stars and a recommendation for those who are interested in learning more about Math (and being assisted by beautiful computer-generated imagery) to help accomplish it in an enjoyable and fascinating manner.
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Thank you. I'll be here all week. Try the veal!

As for The Story Of Math(s), I have to say it really is an amazing educational tool, in that it makes the subject utterly fascinating. For a long time I thought I was a math hater, but it turns out I just didn't know math. I was thinking merely of quadratic equations and my Algebra II teacher in high school who, between friends, was a little bit tired of the job at the time. I can't blame her. We were a thankless bunch. If my Algebra II teacher had been Marcus du Sautoy I think I might be some kind of engineer or astronomer today.

So, I am far from a math aficionado. In fact my basic calculation methods are pretty pathetic. There are times that I will resort to finger counting just to be sure. Oh shut up. You check your front door five times when you know it's locked so tell it to Roger Bannister. My point is this... I was never lost or confused while watching this documentary. In fact I was consistently amazed, fascinated and enthralled. It helps to have some kind of interest in numbers. Mine stems from the Fibonacci numbers and the Golden Ratio, although I have a rudimentary understanding of both. Episode Two "The Genius Of The East" gave me a much more solid working knowledge of each. Basically, I am very intrigued by CONCEPTS of mathematics and this program was able to translate my concepts into factual representations from the real world, in order to help me wrap my unconditioned brain around the ideas. The use of live scenes as backgrounds for graphical overlays is simple in a way, but this simplicity allows the complex concepts (complex to ME, genius) to pop off the screen and be more readily digested.
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Comment 20 of 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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As a high school math teacher I'm always looking for entertaining and informative videos. As other reviewers have pointed out, there aren't many, so I was pretty happy to see all the 5-star reviews for this DVD set. Sadly, after forcing myself through the first two episodes, my hope for this set has all but died.

What I like: good breadth of topics and, for the limited depth it goes into, it's accurate (barring a few misleading analogies).

What I dislike: superficial treatment of topics -- it has many opportunities to explain concepts and algorithms in more depth, but instead moves on and leaves the watcher with only a taste. I may be judging it more harshly because I was already familiar with most of the content, but I felt it passed up innumerable golden opportunities to teach a lay audience more about how mathematics works -- something beyond, "Gee, aint that neat?" For my purposes as a teacher I don't entirely mind the gaps -- I could stop the video and discuss with my class why something just shown actually works, but if you're not watching this in class, I think you'll find it frustrating.

Moving from substance to style, the videos are awash with cheesy special effects and unintentionally comedic dialog and "action" scenes. Production is amateurish and distracting. I had higher hopes from something sold by the BBC.

I'll watch the last two episodes and update my review if necessary, but I'm not holding my breath.
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