- Series: Mathematical World (Book 24)
- Paperback: 125 pages
- Publisher: American Mathematical Society (June 3, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0821839330
- ISBN-13: 978-0821839331
- Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 7 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,073,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Shoelace Book: A Mathematical Guide to the Best (And Worst) Ways to Lace Your Shoes (Mathematical World)
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It is more than simply the story of shoelaces and shoes, which is recounted in a fun appendix. It is more a story of mathematics, a story of how when one person stops to ask, 'why do we do things in this way and what is the hidden logic at work,' wonderful things can happen. By boiling a situation down to its essentials, by labeling, measuring, counting, and classifying we set the stage for asking questions whose answers will stretch, surprise, and delight us. --PLUS Magazine
... a very interesting book ... Polster 'ties together' the relevant combinatorial questions in an effective way. --Art Benjamin, Harvey Mudd College
It's a fun book ... interesting and it'll have a wide audience --Fernando Gouvea, Colby College
About the Author
Burkard Polster is a well-known mathematical juggler, magician, origami expert, bubble-master, shoelace charmer, and "Count von Count" impersonator. His previous books include A Geometrical Picture Book, The Mathematics of Juggling, and QED: Beauty in Mathematical Proof.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book has fairly simple prerequisites: it uses algebra, uses the combinatorial formula and series of sums, and, in the section on the strongest lacings, some calculus. Most of the math can be understood by working it out on paper, but there are some questions that might occur to the reader that a graphing calculator might be useful for. Or a program like Microsoft Math.
The best part of the book is the attitude it teaches: You do mathematics by starting with a very simple question like "What is the shortest way to lace a pair of shoes" and investigate it, then go on to other questions that occur to you, and on and on, until you're answering all kinds of related questions. It is an exploration. It also teaches how you can do this: You start by breaking off smaller problems that you can answer, using models that are simpler than what you're after, and after searching for and finding solutions to the simpler problem you can start answering related questions, and then more difficult questions. There are plenty of shoelace math questions that might occur to the reader that he could go on to investigate on his own.
The book also shows that mathematics needn't be totally dry. It entertains with photos of real shoes laced in various ways, has some Peanuts and Dilbert and other cartoons, discusses related problems (like the Traveling Salesman problem), and even some history of shoelacing.
The author also wrote a book on the mathematics of juggling, called (of course) "The Mathematics of Juggling". That is also a terrific book showing how you can investigate the mathematics of a problem - I think it is more difficult mathematics, however.