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Cows in the Maze: And other mathematical explorations Paperback – Apr 2010


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Cows in the Maze: And other mathematical explorations + How to Cut a Cake: And other mathematical conundrums + Math Hysteria: Fun and games with mathematics
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199562075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199562077
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 2.5 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 187,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Professor Ian Stewart is the author of many popular science books. He is the mathematics consultant for the New Scientist and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick. He was awarded the Michael Faraday Medal for furthering the public understanding of science, and in 2001 became a Fellow of the Royal Society.

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Review

His easy style...makes the explanation of maths behind black holes, animal gait and time travel simple to digest. (Dominic Lenton, Engineering and Technology)

About the Author

Ian Stewart is Professor of Mathematics at Warwick University, and Director of the Mathematics Awareness Centre at Warwick. An active research mathematician, he is also a well-known popularizer of mathematics and related areas of science. In 1995 he was awarded the Royal Society's Michael Faraday Award for furthering the public understanding of science; his book Nature's Numbers was shortlisted for the 1996 Rhone-Poulenc Prize for Science Books; and he delivered the 1997 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, televised by the BBC. In 2001 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. His many books include Evolving the Alien (with Jack Cohen), The Science of Discworld, What Shape is a Snowflake? , Flatterland, The Magical Maze, Does God Play Dice? , and How to Cut a Cake.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. P. J. Jansen on 23 Jun 2010
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed Math Hysteria and How to Cut a Cake, and was looking forward to Ian Stewart's Cows in the Maze. Unfortunately, this book is rather disappointing. The other two books are filled with lesser known topics in recreational maths that are nevertheless very interesting and treated in quite some depth. Stewarts engaging style of writing encourages you to start thinking about the problems that he discusses yourself.

Cows in the Maze is very different. There are 21 chapters. Six deal with topics you will encounter in many other books (Hex, the distribution of prime numbers, incorrect reasoning in the legal system, knight's tours, the Klein bottle, and magic squares), and six are really on physics and not on mathematics (three chapters on time travel, one on the shape of drops, and one on self-organized criticality, one on real knots ). More disappointing however is the way the topics are treated. Many chapters are very superficial. The chapter on Hex is a good example. It only discusses bridge and ladders, which can both be explained in one or two sentences, and anyone starting to play the game will discover these things for himself after a few minutes. Other chapters give too little information to enable you start working in the problems yourself. It is, I think, telling that the feedback section of many chapters is quite small or even absent.

On the other hand there is too much stuff that I could have done without. In the chapter on the way quadrupeds walk, the main topic seems to be Tarzan and Jane. Also in the chapter on the shape of drops the story distracts too much from the mathematics. Klein bottles made of glass look nice, but it is not really mathematics.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bobby on 5 July 2010
Format: Paperback
Not having read the previous two books I had no preconceptions about Cows in the Maze. I found it entertaining and thought provoking. Although some chapters were not on the subject of maths they were very interesting, particularly time travel and topology.

After reading this I will definately read more recreational mathematics books, and after reading the other reviews I will probably start with Math Hysteria and How to Cut a Cake.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By KRISHNA JAGA on 22 Jun 2010
Format: Paperback
I've been looking forward to this book - which was delayed by almost a year after it was announced and am bit disappointed with the content - not as entertaining with his "recreational maths " as Ian Stewart's previous books like Maths hysteria as the topics are more physics and less recreational maths etc

Stewart covers mathematics of time travel, explores the shape of teardrops (physics ?) ,strategies for the game of Hex, and the title "Where Are the Cows?" maze, which changes every time you pass through it. He also covers on how to count magic squares, describes the mathematical patterns in animal movement (with a story more about Tarzan and Jane than the actual problem ) and the physics of sand piles etc though all embellished with wit , humour and delightful cartoons.

Another gripe is on the quality of binding as the book has come apart within 4-5 days and also why has the book size has been reduced from the earlier comfortable standard 9 x 6 to 7 x 5 as in math hysteria and How to cut a cake . Most inconvenient.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Buyable Book - but poor quality of binding 15 Jun 2010
By KRISHNA JAGA - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
've been looking forward to this book - which was delayed by almost a year after it was announced and am bit disappointed with the content - not as entertaining with his "recreational maths " as Ian Stewart's previous books like Maths hysteria as the topics are more physics and less recreational maths etc

Stewart covers mathematics of time travel, explores the shape of teardrops (physics ?) ,strategies for the game of Hex, and the title "Where Are the Cows?" maze, which changes every time you pass through it. He also covers on how to count magic squares, describes the mathematical patterns in animal movement (with a story more about Tarzan and Jane than the actual problem ) and the physics of sand piles etc though all embellished with wit , humour and delightful cartoons.

Another gripe is on the quality of binding as the book has come apart within 4-5 days and also why has the book size has been reduced from the earlier comfortable standard 9 x 6 to 7 x 5 as in math hysteria and How to cut a cake . Most inconvenient.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good but not Stewart's best 25 Jun 2011
By Per Holst - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
21 chapters of mathematical recreation. Usually I find the professors books rather entertaining, but I must say I'm feeling a bit disappointed about this volume.

It's off to a good start with "the Lore and Lure of Dice" - the context specific reflection on the question of probability, and the non-transitive dice. Then quickly passing Piet Hein's board game Hex.

Why we're introduced to Tarzan and Jane in the midst of an otherwise interesting subject, "Walking with quadropeds" - the patterns of the gaits of four legged animals, I have no idea.

Chapters 7, 8, and 9 touches upon time travel, which - as I recall it - is much more physics and sci-fi than mathematics. Luckily though chapter 10 serves a nice gem - Cone with a Twist - the sphericon.

Chapter 11 touches upon the shape of a drop, and in chapter 12 we're back to probability and fallacies in The Interrogator's Fallacy, where we now use Bayes' theorem and Mathews's formula. There's an error in the formula printed on page 173 at the top though, it should be:
P(A|C) = P(C|A) * P (A)/ P(C)

Then we get to the title chapter: Cows in the Maze. And while it has cows and is kind of a maze - it's not a standard maze, it's a maze of logic statements.

Leaving the maze on a Knight's Tour into Cat's Cradle over Klein bottles (and Möbius bands) into Voronoï celled craters into knots, which again I found a bit disappointing.

The construction of Most Perfect Squares are matched up with Mathematical impossibilities.

The final chapter of the book regards dancing with strings forming regular solids.
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