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Why Do Buses Come in Threes? The Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Parts that I particularly loved were the coverage of sections not treated in other, similiar texts. How fast to run in the rain to stay the driest, how to cut oddly shaped cakes into equal parts, etc.
Parts that I found the least exciting were the re-treatments of the stuff of standard layman's math books- does the world need another description of the travelling salesman problem, or Fibonacci sequences throughout nature? (though these descriptions are better than most that Ive read)
Overall, this book was very enjoyable. If you've read no "math and the world books" you will think it is 5 stars, and if you've read many of them you will think 4 stars (or just skip those chapters)
the book also contains a number of mathematical formulas. i remember reading somewhere that for every equation given in a book, sales drop by 5000 (or some number like that). Hopefully that won't happen here.
The first chapter begins with numbers that occur frequently in plants, explaining why four-leafed clovers are rare. Depending on the species, plants tend to have three leaves like clovers, or five leaves like buttercups, pansies and primroses, rather than four. The chapter then describes more curiosities about numbers and ratios that occur in plants.
The ninth chapter deals with the title of the book, explaining why buses that begin their journeys at evenly spaced intervals and travelling along the same route don't usually arrive at their destination at evenly spaced intervals. The author suggests that it is quite common for a bus to catch up the one ahead, but that it is most unlikely that a third bus will catch these two, so buses may come in twos but rarely threes.
Other chapters deal with route planning, opinion polls, betting, apparent coincidences, angles, making tea, cutting cake, secret codes, sports rankings, game theory, set theory, map reading, traffic jams, queues, scheduling, logic and deduction. If some of these sound intimidating, don't worry as they are all presented in an easy-going style that makes them more interesting than they might otherwise be.
The final chapter presents a few mathematical tricks that you can play on unsuspecting children as a good way to get them interested in numbers. All in all, this book presents mathematics in an entertaining and easily accessible way. If you enjoy it, there is a sequel, How long is a piece of string?, by the same author, but if you are choosing between them, I'd nominate this one is slightly the better of the two.
Have you ever wondered why flowers often have five petals, how bookies' odds work, how you always end up in the slowest queue, or, indeed, why buses come in threes? If so, then this is the book for you.
In the course of a humorous, chatty discourse on the mysteries of life the authors introduce a number of branches of mathematics, including probability, topology, statistics and queuing theory, to name just a few.
To aid casual readers or those who've previously found the subject forbidding the maths is kept at a fairly simple level. However there's still enough detail to be useful in other applications. I used this book as a reminder when trying to solve a problem related to software performance, and others who don't exercise their maths every day might also find it a useful memory jogger.
Whether as an introduction if you've never enjoyed maths before, or a reminder if you have, I thoroughly recommend this book. I can also recommend the companion volume "How Long is a Piece of String?"
Interesting examples from daily life capable of arousing curiosity were utilized to illustrate otherwise "serious" mathematical concepts: temperature of shower water (negative-feedback), dating (game-theory), "wonder numbers" in nature (golden ratio), bad luck (probability)......etc. Concepts were well-elaborated, conducted in a comprehensive and attractive, but never shallow or over-simplified, manner. The authors were just good at alluring readers to think and explore things more than "skin-deep", beyond what they seems like at surface. The writing style is attractive and humorous.
This book is of immense value in enhancing reasoning, critical thinking and, most importantly, appreciation of life itself. Highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A good friend's son, age 10, has been assigned this book (alongside another title by the same author) in school, presumably in addition to the normal math he gets given to study. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Athan
4th time I've bought it for friends - friends that like numbers. I you like numbers, you'll just LOVE this book.Published 18 months ago by JimmyP
The problem with much of math education, it doesn't apply it to real life situations enough. Sure, ok, you can count change and add this and that, but math has deeper relations... Read morePublished 23 months ago by OtherWorlds&Wisdom
This is an excellent book, but not as good as The Hidden Mathematics of Sport by the same authors. Both books consist of independent chapters speculating about everyday phenomena... Read morePublished on August 14, 2014 by Aaron C. Brown
'Why Do Buses Come in Threes?' shows how common questions can be solved with mathematics. That it does it in a very accessible and fun way is where it succeeds. Read morePublished on July 17, 2014 by Wayne A McCoy
If someone in your family or in your close circle of friends has a young child, you are no doubt intimately aware of how young ones see the world as a fascinating place filled with... Read morePublished on May 16, 2014 by Sahar
This is an interesting book. Covers lots of different interesting topics. Service was pretty quick. Thanks for the great service.Published on May 16, 2014 by Frederick S. Ruland
Im pretty sure i ordered this book used but when it came it looked brand new. Very happy customer! HappyPublished on July 6, 2013 by jessie0323
This book really does open eyes as to see how math is everywhere. Something as small as a clover is used to make it so all can relate to math. Read morePublished on March 11, 2012 by spoland