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The Joy of Pi Paperback – September 1, 1999

4 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Blatner is the author of The Joy of p, as well as eight books on topics such as digital imaging and virtual reality. More than 500,000 copies of his books are in print in twelve languages. He has spent hundreds of hours flying between Asia, Europe, and North America. He and his wife and son live in Seattle, Washington.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Books (September 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802775624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802775627
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.4 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #270,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Blatner is the author of 15 books, translated into 14 languages with over a half-million copies in print, including "Spectrums," "The Joy of Pi," "Real World InDesign," and "The Flying Book." As an expert on digital publishing, he has lectured in five continents over the past two decades. He and his wife and two sons live, explore, and write outside Seattle, Washington.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Probably no number has so fascinated mathematicians and non-mathematicians as much as pi, that enigmatic and unnending number that begins 3.14159265. Pi is simple to define: it is the ratio of the circumference of any circle to the diameter. Beyond that simple definition lies much that is fascinating, as much for the behavior of those who have studied pi as for the number itself.
David Blatner's "The Joy of Pi" presents many anecdotes about pi and its history, and these stories span from the inchoate stages of geometry to the recent, computer-assisted explorations (indeed, running through the book is a one-million-digit expansion of pi). For the serious mathematician, "The Joy of Pi" probably contains little new and is too brief in the topics it does cover. But Blatner's apparent aim is not to produce a weighty intellectual tome. Instead, Blatner has written what might aptly be called "Pi 101." As a brief survey of one of the more fascinating mathematical enigmae, "The Joy of Pi" succeeds swimmingly.
When Stephen King, John Grisham, or Patricia Cornwell writes a new book, the audience is pre-sold. With a book about mathematics, however, the opposite is probably true. With math phobia (or innumeracy, as another author calls it) all too common, far too many people will pass up this breezy book for fear of being in over their heads or being bored to the point of tears. Anyone with such a fear should do his or her best to overcome it long enough to pick up "The Joy of Pi." The result might very well be a brief glimpse at the beauty and mystery of mathematics--and some of the more interesting and amusing pieces of its history (such as the misguided attempt to legislate pi!).
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Format: Paperback
There is a lot of very interesting information presented in David Blatner's The Joy of Pi, but it is well hidden behind a precipitous writing style and the worst graphics and design work ever presented in a general science book. But then why four stars?
Well, this one little tidbit alone was worth the price of admission: "The height of an elephant (from foot to shoulder) equals 2 x Pi x the diameter of the elephants foot". This is just one example of how Blatner attempts to show his audience how intrinsic and real and relevant Pi is to the everyday world. And he does it with a type of bombastic style and confident fun oftentimes not seen in general science books.
Well, at least it is fun for the first seventy-five pages or so. In the final chapters of the book, Blatner falls into a twenty-plus page flame of cyclometers (i.e. mathematical diletantes who are still trying to square the circle -- if you don't know what this means, then you really need to read the book!). His diatribe includes more than a dozen call-out boxes, 15 quotes, and various other assorted and sundry techniques for trying to make cyclometers look ridiculous (I don't believe that cyclometers will be successful, but it's their kind of energy and passion that put the human race in space).
1) Wealth of interesting facts about Pi
2) Design and formatting of text and graphics couldn't be worse
3) Questionable value to the last chapters which include a 20+ page flame on cyclometers
4) Three hour read to learning all the general enthusiast needs to know about Pi
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Format: Paperback
This is not for serious readers. It is however for those who have only seen the symbol and do not know more,
The book gives myriad facts which are indeed interesting, but serve only to outline the history of the calculation of pi. It falls severely short in providing a contemporary perspective, in terms of how advanced were the other sciences at the same time, it fails to show the various places where pi was used and does little to elaborate on the people behind its calculations.
Reading this on the heels of 'e The story of a number', this book came very disappointing since I had all sorts of expectations from the book to treat Pi with the same rich thoroughness that Eli Maor has treated e. But the book is not a complete loss, since it does go into some of the less known trivia about the number, and perhaps this book can be the basis of a trivia quiz setup on Pi.
If you are a math person - avoid this.
If you are just curious and need an extremely simple crasher - no book is better than this one actually, for the above purpose
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Format: Paperback
I just received this book yesterday for winning a mathematics award at my high school. It's an interesting little book about this number that has captivated people for centuries. There's nothing new here - it's essentially a compilation of all the pi anecdotes and proof sketches that the author could find.
But it's a fun little book. Scattered throughout the book in really small print are the first million digits of Pi. The text is broken by many little sidebars and quotes, and there are formulas to calculate Pi throughout. If you have computer software that will allow you to calculate these series to at least 100 decimal places or so, see how fast the series converge.
One of the great themes in Pi calculation is finding series that converge faster and faster. Some series for Pi are, of course, quite elementary: 4(1 - 1/3 + 1/5 - 1/7 + 1/9 - ...) comes to mind, but this takes forever to converge. Then there are the "mystical" formulas - the ones where I have no idea how they equal Pi, but they do. For example, this formula, from the Chudnovsky brothers on p. 71: 1/Pi = 12 * (the sum on n = 0 to infinity) (-1)^n * (6n)!/((n!)^3*(3n!)) * (13591409+545140134n)/(640320^(3n+3/2)) which looks much more formidable, but gives 14 decimal places per term. This mystical aspect of Pi has attracted many geniuses over the centuries (including Ramanujan - there's a sidebar about him), and it isn't lost on Blatner.
Buy this book. You don't have to read it cover to cover - in fact, it's probably better to just dip in at random points here and there and see what you find.
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