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Lewis Carroll in Numberland: His Fantastical…

Lewis Carroll in Numberland: His Fantastical Mathematical Logical Life (2008)

by Robin Wilson

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Most people know Charles Dodgson as his pen name Lewis Carroll and his work "Alice in Wonderland"; however, he was also a brilliant mathematician. This book documents this life from childhood through his years at Oxford University. In addition to biographical information, Robin Wilson includes many of Dodgson's puzzles and math problems for the reader to solve. The book turns from a biography to a book of logic puzzles. After reading this book, I had to watch Alice in Wonderland again as it gave me an entirely new perspective on the story. The illustrations are a must in this book if the reader is not familiar with the proofs explained in the book. The author also uses many primary sources from Dodgson's writings. Having assigned students mathematicians on which to complete biographies, I have used this book as a reference. Given it can be a difficult read for junior high students, I usually pick out which sections would given them the most relevant information. There are also many puzzles and problems that can be used as weekly challenge problems for students. ( )
1 vote kgeorge | Nov 17, 2012 |
An interesting biography of a fascinating man. Prior to reading this book, I had no idea that Dodgson was a pioneer of photography, for example. The book ties together Dodgson's various passions and the currents in his life quite well. However, about three-quarters of the way through the book, it loses its narrative energy, and the book becomes something of a slog to finish. ( )
1 vote argyriou | Jul 23, 2011 |
A short biographical treatment of Charles Dodgson (pen name Lewis Carroll) containing several examples of his mathematical interests. I was interested to learn how the Alice series came to be written as a logical and natural result of his character since childhood. He was a multi-talented man, according to author, who would be perhaps best known for his photography, if it were not for the Alice books. Yet he was an original and brilliant mathematician, as well as a teacher of mathematics constantly searching for ways to motivate and explain his subject. I found the mathematical materials of great interest, but they could have been weeded down into fewer examples. There are fine helps for the reader, such as maps, illustrations, photographs, and notes.

One small fact I'll remember: n the pronunciation of 'Dodgson,' the 'g' is silent. ( )
1 vote Wheatland | Aug 1, 2010 |
Widely known as the author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass, and various other children short stories and poems, Lewis Carroll aka Charles Dodgson was much less well known for his algorithms for memorizing logarithm tables or his book on efficient methods for calculating the determinants of matrices. Robin Wilson introduces us to the mathematical world of Dodgson, who in real life was a maths lecturer at Christ Church Oxford, interspersed with biographical sketches of his life.

This was a fun little book about one of my favorite authors and aspects of his life that rarely see print. I was expecting more on the mathematical aspects of his better known works, such as the two Alice books, which are touched on only sporadically here. Most of the book was spent on the mathematics he worked on in his capacity as lecturer and mathematician, and although his logic puzzles were written with the same sort of whimsy and skill that he put into his more famous works, I still found the book a bit of a letdown. ( )
2 vote craigim | Dec 29, 2009 |
Most biographies follow a predictable structure--birth, life, death. If you pick one up, you know pretty much what you'll get. Wilson, however, mixes it up as he examines the life of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson a.k.a. Lewis Carroll the author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Interspersed with the biographical narrative are mathematical and logic puzzles created by Dodgson himself. (more)
  syaffolee | Jun 1, 2009 |
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No carte has yet been done of me,

that does real justice to my smile;

and so I hardly like, you see,

to send you one - however, I'll

consider if you will or not -

meanwhile, I send a little thing

to give you an idea of what

I look like when I'm lecturing.

The merest sketch, you will allow -

yet still I think there's something grand

In the expression of the brow

and in the action of the hand.
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As you might expect from a lecturer in mathematics, Lewis Carroll's books for children are brimming with mathematical allusions - arithmetical, geometrical, logical and mechanical.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393060276, Hardcover)

A penetrating work that explores the amazing imagination and mathematical genius of the man who wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Just when we thought we knew everything about Lewis Carroll, here comes a highly original biography that will appeal to Alice fans everywhere. Fascinated by the inner life of Charles Lutwidge Dodson, Robin Wilson, a Carroll scholar and a noted mathematics professor, has produced this revelatory book—filled with more than one hundred striking and often playful illustrations—that examines the many inspirations and sources for Carroll's fantastical writings, mathematical and otherwise. As Wilson demonstrates, Carroll—who published serious, if occasionally eccentric, works in the fields of geometry, logic, and algebra—made significant contributions to subjects as varied as voting patterns and the design of tennis tournaments, in the process creating imaginative recreational puzzles based on mathematical ideas. In the tradition of Sylvia Nasar's A Beautiful Mind and Andrew Hodges's Alan Turing, this is an engaging look at the incredible genius of one of mathematics' and literature's most enigmatic minds. 100 illustrations

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:04 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"In this book, the author explores the singular imagination of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson - known to millions around the world as Lewis Carroll - the creator of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Lewis Carroll in Numberland shows how this incredible mind was not limited to the exuberant fantasy and wordplay of his children's books, which also brim with mathematical allusions - arithmetical, geometrical, logical and mechanical." "Robin Wilson's celebration of Dodgson's mathematical achievements reveals that his work in numbers went far beyond the purely academic. We are taken inside the mind of a man who turned his mathematical genius to the study of voting patterns, to the design of tennis tournaments and even to the prolific creation and popularization of imaginative numerical puzzles."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393060276, 0393304523

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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