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The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English (1)
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0547517653, Hardcover)
Guest Review by Janna Levin
Janna Levin is a Professor of Astronomy and Physics at Barnard College of Columbia University. She has contributed to an understanding of black holes, the cosmology of extra dimensions, and gravitational waves in the shape of space time. She is the author of the popular-science book, How the Universe Got Its Spots and a novel, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, which won the PEN/Bingham prize. Janna was recently named a Guggenheim Fellow (2012).
I loved this beautiful book from the first page.
Mathematicians are in a peculiar predicament. Mathematical beauty is patent to them. And in the perception of that beauty is pleasure, is joy. But that pleasure is not easily shared. Mathematical beauty eludes many others, or even most others.
Steven Strogatz wants to share that joy. He sees the beauty of pi and 0 and infinity. But he doesn’t want to impose his impressions on you or to report on the view from his privileged perspective. He wants you to see it too. He doesn’t want to argue that mathematics is creative and beautiful. He wants you to experience the visceral pleasure for yourself.
To that end, he disassembles mathematics as a discipline, both feared and revered, and reassembles mathematics as a world, both accessible and magical.
If you have never braved this grand world, put away your math anxiety, your preconceptions. This book is the most welcoming entree to mathematical thinking that I know of.
If you have braved this grand world, you will find a collection of gems, new ways of inhabiting the domain. Strogatz links historical anecdotes to new insights, as though the math itself is sculptural, composed of forms that are simultaneously familiar and ethereal. The logic seems effortless so that each module snaps into its complement with a gratifying click.
This book is a rebuttal to the accusation that mathematical abstraction is cold or inhuman. Mathematics is no more intrinsically cold or inhuman than language. And Strogatz lends a warmth and humanity to both.
The Joy of x is, well, a joy.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:50 -0400)
"In 2010, award-winning professor Steven Strogatz wrote a series for the New York Times online called "The Elements of Math." It was hugely popular: Each piece climbed the most emailed list and elicited hundreds of comments. Readers begged for more, and Strogatz has now delivered. In this fun, fast-paced book, he offers us all a second chance at math. Each short chapter of The Joy of X provides an "Aha!" moment, starting with why numbers are helpful, and moving on to such topics as shapes, calculus, fat tails, and infinity. Strogatz explains the ideas of math gently and clearly, with wit, insight, and brilliant illustrations. Assuming no knowledge, only curiosity, he shows how math connects to literature, philosophy, law, medicine, art, business, even pop culture and current events. For example, did O.J. do it? How should you flip your mattress to get the maximum wear out of it? How does Google search the Internet? How many people should you date before settling down? Strogatz is the math teacher you wish you'd had, and The Joy of X is the book you'll want to give to all your smart and curious friends. "--
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