- Hardcover: 310 pages
- Publisher: Copernicus; Corrected edition (March 16, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 038797993X
- ISBN-13: 978-0387979939
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #260,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Book of Numbers Corrected Edition
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The Book of Numbers lets readers of all levels of mathematical sophistication (or lack thereof) understand the origins, patterns, and interrelationships of different numbers. Whether it is a visualization of the Catalan numbers or an explanation of how the Fibonacci numbers occur in nature, there is something in here to delight everyone. The diagrams and pictures, many of which are in color, make this book particularly appealing and fun. A few of the discussions may be confusing to those who are not adept mathematicians; those who are may be irked that certain facts are mentioned without an accompanying proof. Nonetheless, The Book of Numbers will succeed in infecting any reader with an enthusiasm for numbers.
From Library Journal
The authors are well known to both academic and recreational mathematicians?Conway for inventing the "game of life" and discovering surreal numbers and Guy as the editor of the "Unsolved Problems" section in American Mathematical Monthly. They also coauthored the classic Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays (Academic, 1982). This popularization of number theory looks like another classic. Though number theory does not lend itself to fun and games, the authors take such joy in the order and patterns of numbers that you can't help being fascinated by what is actually a fairly difficult subject. A combination of clear verbal explanations, wonderfully clever diagrams, and equations (for the real mathematicians) make sometimes complicated numerical concepts accessible to those "without particular mathematical background" (i.e., who are not at least graduate students in mathematics). The material is simplified but not dumbed down. A bridge to understanding and appreciating higher mathematical concepts, this book could appeal to anyone from a mathematically sophisticated high school student to a university mathematics professor.?Amy Brunvand, Univ. of Utah Lib., Salt Lake City
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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After the first two or three chapters, the book does seem rushed and there is much that I could not follow. I was especially frustrated by the method used to count the number of regions determined by the diagonals of a polynomial. It looks like a simple and original treatment of a classical problem, but after several attempts I just can't follow the logic.
Next, they move into squares, triangular numbers, and many others with rich geometric meanings. Chapters 1 and 2, especially, create vivid images that bring many of their concepts to life. I had a bit of trouble finding ch.3's focus. It touches briefly combinatorics, a world in itself, and difference techniques. I found "Jackson's Fan" fascinating, but too terse for easy application to real problems. After this, the going gets a lot tougher, fast.
By ch 4, "Famous Families," the illustration is no longer as vivid as before. Ch. 6, on fractions and decimal expansions also held some interest - it touches on complexity in the decimal forms of fractions, and the numeric roots from which it springs. The section on continued fractions is only just enough to titillate without really enlightening. Discussion of imaginary numbers is OK, and offers some enjoyable insights. The section on quaternions, though, does a lot less to invite personal involvement and stir the imagination. Later sections of the book present readable surveys of their topics, but require a lot more form the reader in the way of determination and mathematical background.
If the whole book sustained the initial energy, it would have been an instant classic. The later parts of the book were clear, readable, and even enjoyable, but didn't match the breadth or vividness of the first half. I enjoyed this, but I may not come back to it.