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Mathematics made difficult Hardcover – 1972

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 207 pages
  • Publisher: World Pub; [1st American ed.] edition (1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0529045524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0529045522
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,468,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I found this book while browsing my university library 25 years ago. In a sea of titles like "Mathematics Made Easy/Simple/etc." this book stood out from the crowd. Now, my mathematical background would probably be categorized as "moderate" - the ordinary math taken by an engineering student, 3 years of calculus and differential equations. Advanced algebra, group and set theory, and topology are all beyond my understanding.

Since really understanding this book more or less depends on a knowledge of all of these, one might expect it to go above me. What I found instead was, in addition to enjoying the delightfully witty writing, I actually learned something about all these topics. Not that I remember much now, of course - but probably no less than I remember from most subjects I was actually enrolled in.

Example: Early in the book, he reproduces an imaginary Q&A in which the questioner relates that when he meets a mathematician at a party and he says "Well, I guess we've come a long way since 1+1=2", the mathematician makes a wry face. The author then, in answering the imaginary questioner, takes an entire chapter explaining exactly how complicated 1+1=2 really is. You have to start with what does "1" mean, for example. This leads to mathematical constructs I had never dreamed of simply to understand what numbers and counting are.

In summary, this is a wonderful book for anybody with at least an ordinary college-level understanding of math, and I hope somebody reprints it.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a wonderfully humorous satire of the project (possibly pushed by Mac Lane, Lawvere, Grothendieck, and others, though never as far as one might think) to reformulate all of mathematics on category-theoretic foundations. As such, many of the jokes will be lost on a reader with no familiarity with the language of category theory. But there are plenty of other jokes that even a high schooler should be able to appreciate. There's also some entertaining national stereotypes of French mathematicians and others that probably date the book a bit.

Highly recommended for a math graduate student who needs distraction from work.
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By A Customer on November 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
One of the funniest books I ever read. Brilliant, on many levels. You also learn a lot about abstract algebra and topology.
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Format: Hardcover
The jokes are hysterical, although the book may require some smidgeon of knowledge of math past high school trig...
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