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The Divine Proportion: A Study in Mathematical Beauty (Dover Books on Mathematics) Paperback – June 1, 1970


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The Divine Proportion: A Study in Mathematical Beauty (Dover Books on Mathematics) + The Golden Ratio: The Story of PHI, the World's Most Astonishing Number
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Books on Mathematics
  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; 1st edition (June 1, 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486222543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486222547
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #365,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
Can one write a whole book about a number? Well this book is basically about the golden ratio ( [1 + sqrt(5)]/2 = 1.618...]), usually represented by the greek letter "phi" (and I'll refer to this number here as phi). The book gives tons of examples where phi shows up, and it does amazingly show up in places where one might never expect it. But the book isn't just a pile of examples. As the title implies, it is also about math and aesthetics. There are some interesting historical notes and art/aesthetics commentaries from the author. Huntley proposes (and I might be oversimplifying a bit here) that phi is a universal number of beauty, since it manifests itself in many aesthetically pleasing things, from patterns in nature to famous artwork and architechture. He also points out lots of purely mathematical curiosities of phi (like the connection between it and the fibonacci sequence, continued fractions, etc.)
My only complaints is that there are a few connections that seem far-fetched. Again, the book _is_ filled with plenty of amazing examples where phi shows up, including many places where one might least expect it. But really, not every sighting of "1.6" calls for a cry of "eurika"! (And oddly enought, at some point the author criticizes the ancient Greeks for once acting like that!) The section on music had some flaws and really far-fetched claims, which is too bad, since I've always loved researching the math/music connection.
But over all, the book does leave me wondering why Pi should get all the fame.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By "treman" on April 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is perfect if you enjoyed the movie Pi and want to learn more, or if you are researching connections between math and religion, art, quality (per R. Pirsig), or aesthetics. One downer is that Huntley tries, and fails, to explain how math can be beautiful just like poetry can be beautiful. I personally think that you either dig math or you don't. Huntley should assume that anyone reading his/her book is at least interested and therefore skip the "math can be pretty too" lesson. Beyond that, though, the book is a thorough introduction to phi and the golden ratio. Huntley more than makes up for his mentioned faults by providing numerous equations, proofs, plots, and diagrams. The math level is pre-calculus with emphasis on geometry. I recommend reading this with plenty of scratch paper handy so that you can work along with the text and prove to yourself how deep this rabbit hole goes.
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118 of 130 people found the following review helpful By Danni Akers on August 14, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For the most part an excellent, easy to follow work. However, on page 99 (item #3, bottom of page) the author states the incorrect equality: 2(phi+1+1/phi)=4, for the surface area of the golden cuboid. Correctly, the surface area of the given cuboid should be equal to approximately 6.472. This error could be overlooked except for the fact that the author extrapolates on this incorrect result (next page, item #4) and hints at a connection between pi and phi. The author uses his incorrect constant of proportionality, namely "4", which appears in the figuring of the surface area of the circumscribing sphere and the cuboid, as evidence of this "connection". Thus, in the guise of some illusive geometric "hint", leaving the reader with the idea that a tie between these two constants may exist in this geometric figure. The significance of this error cannot be overlooked.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Vedder on January 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
The review from Atlanta said he was tempted to staple entire pages together to eliminate the gushing in this book... I actually went through with a marker and crossed out what irritated me (about a third of the book).
Aside from that, this book does an excellent job at giving a beginner a handle on phi. Many of his examples either don't work out (as the other commentators have indicated) or more often, aren't spelled out well enough for the novice. Nonetheless, it's a book worth having. The relationships between E, Pi, and Phi, the three constants for the three dimensions of numbers, are well treated.
Mark Vedder
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Adrian Kok on November 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
Phi - the Greek alphbet that denotes the golden ratio. It is a fixed mathematical ratio that has been associated with aesthetically pleasing shapes, which is what Huntley's book, The Divine Proportion, attempts to describe. This ratio permeates various geometrical structures and has been linked to pleasing shapes (as identified through independent surveys).

Unfortunately, my mathematical faculties have been unexercised since I left university, and the book stretches my knowledge to its limits. If I were reading this ten years earlier, I might have found it easier. But nonetheless, this tome is for those who are comfortable with mathematical expressions, and not for an unprepared reader.

But still Huntley has made a commendable effort to bring together various disciplines - of music, psychology, geometry, algebra - and ties everything together with the Golden Ratio. His arguments are refreshing - its one of the first times I have heard anyone argue for the beauty of mathematics.

Now, if I only had the time to revise my algebra and work on those exercises!
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