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A Wealth of Numbers: An Anthology of 500 Years of Popular Mathematics Writing Hardcover – April 29, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"One of the pleasures of this book is reading the texts in the language of the day. . . . The collection as a whole provides the general reader with a history of mathematics, biographical and otherwise, through popular writing. Because the writing was aimed at general readers of its time, it is usually accessible to the average mathematical reader of our time. The book would be an excellent reference for teachers of mathematics and for those researching the history of the dissemination of mathematical ideas."--Carol Dorf, American Scientist

"[F]or the enthusiast for the history of popular maths writing this is a must-have book."--Brian Clegg, Popular Science

"In A Wealth of Numbers, we have the end product of what must have been a lot of challenging research. . . . This book works well for random browsing as well as for sustained reading; purely recreational essays and puzzle problems are well-mixed with more serious topics such as an article explaining Cantor's diagonalization proof and 'Cubic equations for the practical man.' There's something in here for everyone, and it's a great contribution to the mathematics literature to have it all in one place."--Mark Bollman, MAA Reviews

"Wardhaugh provides an exciting addition to mathematics anthologies. . . . The physical format is very reader-friendly, with especially good line spacing and margins. The book is valuable for all libraries supporting undergraduate and graduate study, as well as many public libraries. Faculty should consider this as a source of comprehensible readings for aspiring mathematics majors. Individuals interested in math history will want a copy for their personal libraries."--Choice

"The Wardhaugh book is a welcome addition to anthologies that have preceded it. . . . Although written for the general reader who is interested in mathematics, the collection is apropos for those who are more mathematically oriented as well. . . . [T]his well-thought-out, eclectic collection will provide hours of enjoyable reading."--Jim Tattersall, CSHPM

"Fascinating to browse, a delight to read, and informative. . . . Get this book! It is as much fun to read as it is to share with others, especially students who can gain from doses of past mathematical realities."--Jerry Johnson, Mathematics Teacher

"This book permits the reader to pick it up whenever he or she has a few minutes (or longer) to spare, and find a section to fit the available free time and mood. It will provide the reader, novice and expert alike, many hours of learning filled with surprise, pleasure, amazement, and sometimes laughter."--Godfried Toussaint, Zentralblatt MATH

"A Wealth of Numbers explores the often overlooked history of popular mathematics in an easy to read and captivating manner. I recommend the book, not only as an excellent research text in this area of mathematics, but as an interesting and entertaining read."--Steve Humble, Mathematics Today Magazine

From the Back Cover

"This accessible and inviting anthology shows how entertaining it can be to think about mathematics. The selection, organization, and commentaries result in a unique book that is equal to far more than the sum of its parts."--Paul C. Pasles, author of Benjamin Franklin's Numbers


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1st edition (April 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691147752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691147758
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,425,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By xi'an on June 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This Wealth of Numbers is a compilation of one hundred texts on mathematics for the general audience, à la Martin Gardner but starting in 1481! Very few well-known authors in this compilation, apart from Voltaire, Euler, Carroll, Pólya, van der Waerden, Shaw, Rademacher, Toeplitz. and Feynman... I must acknowledge I did not read each entry in detail over breakfast, either by laziness about the old English style or because the topic was not of direct interest to me. This leads me to wonder who would appreciate the book. The styles and contents are quite mixed, from puzzles to historical entries, to older and newer ways of introducing basic notions, to science-fiction (for the very last entry) [if not Anathem!]... A linear reader, going from page 1 to page 365, must thus be quite open-minded if this reader does not want to skip anything. The book can however be seen as a terrific source for short illustrations in talks and classes. (The only missing feature is that a critical assessment of the texts, so that readers could be warned about mistakes and misconceptions of the writers.)

A few gems I appreciated: the wrong resolution of a probability problem by (the highly obscure) L.
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By Kindle Customer on December 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Most of the articles were dull. OK to have on the Kindle, but not to share. I read it quickly.
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