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50 Mathematical Ideas You Really Need to Know (50 Ideas) Hardcover – Sep 2007

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc (Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847241476
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847241474
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.9 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 373,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Inside Flap

Who invented zero? Why 60 seconds in a minute? How big is infinity? Where do parallel lines meet? And can a butterfly's wings really cause a storm on the far side of the world? In 50 Mathematical Ideas You Really Need to Know, Professor Tony Crilly explains in 50 clear and concise essays the mathematical concepts - ancient and modern, theoretical and practical, everyday and esoteric - that allow us to understand and shape the world around us. Beginning with zero itself and concluding with the last great unsolved problem, 50 Ideas: Introduces the origins of mathematics, from Egyptian fractions to Roman numerals; Explains the near-mystical significance of pi and primes, Fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio; Tells you the things they didn't at school - what calculus, statistics and algebra can actually do, and the very real uses of imaginary numbers; Illuminates the Big Ideas of relativity, chaos theory, fractals, genetics and hyperspace; Reveals the unspoken reasoning behind Sudoku and code cracking, lotteries and gambling, money management and compound interest; Explores the latest mind-shattering developments, including the solving of Fermat's last theorem and the million-dollar question of the Riemann hypothesis. Packed with diagrams, examples and anecdotes, 50 Mathematical Ideas is the perfect overview of this often daunting but always essential subject. For once, mathematics couldn't be simpler.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Tony Crilly is Reader in Mathematical Sciences at Middlesex University, having previously taught at the University of Michigan, the City University in Hong Kong, and the Open University. His principal research interest is the history of mathematics, and he has written and edited many works on fractals, chaos and computing. He is the author of the acclaimed biography of the English mathematician Arthur Cayley.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By B. Adams on 29 Oct. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Mathematics is a topic than can easily overwhelm a novice with its esoteric lingo, abstract notations and complex ideas. Tony Crilly manages to explain the most important mathematical concepts in a clear, concise way. Every idea receives a four page explanation, which in most cases is enough to give you a clear understanding of the concept and how it applies to the real world.

The book has a few flaws though. Some concepts could do with a little more material, as sometimes the brevity of the explanation leaves one puzzled and unfulfilled. Also, the writer assumes the reader has a firm grip on the very basics of mathematics, which may not be the case for everyone. And lastly sometimes the way a concept applies to real world situations isn't made sufficiently clear.

Nonetheless this is a great book, recommended for everyone who has an interest in mathematics and wants a clear, no-nonsense, plain language explanation of all those fantastic ideas that you see in TV shows like Numb3rs, but who lack the time and inclination to wrestle their way through inaccessible tomes of mathematical knowledge. This book is very much accessible and a joy to read.
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62 of 63 people found the following review helpful By H. Vincent on 11 Mar. 2009
Format: Hardcover
I approached this book with three questions in mind. Being mathematically trained I was curious about whether these really were ideas I didn't know about and needed to. On the other hand I thought about my past students embarking on their training - could they benefit from knowing these 50 ideas? Finally, I wondered if this book might inspire someone to begin to study mathematics, much in the way I was inspired as a novice by trying to read about relativity and finding myself staring into the face of a strange and enticing mystery. The answers were appealingly affirmative, which made me wonder what else it is about this little book that makes it so attractive. Yes, the layout is good with topics mainly restricted to bite-size 4-page spreads. Yes, the hand drawn diagrams give the book a friendly feel and, yes, 50 is a nice round number. But its real appeal lies in the way the author slowly wins the reader's trust and confidence. The author, as tour guide, is friendly and humorous, knows his stuff and communicates it well. In fact, the book is a Pandora's box of delights ranging across an extraordinary wide set of ideas. For instance, ideas 23 to 28 are listed as `Topology', `Dimension', `Fractals', `Chaos', `The parallel postulate' and `Discrete geometry', to list just a few of the enticing mysteries on offer. It is the sort of book I will return to again and again to extract new gems of mathematical insight or historical perspective. But it seems to work also at many levels - I have even had 14-year-old students read and enjoy parts of it. Remarkably, age and experience do not seem to be barriers, though I am always bound to look at it through possibly more practised eyes. Still, I feel completely confident in recommending it, especially to students either setting out on their mathematical studies or thinking about doing so.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Richard on 2 Feb. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
The Kindle is an excellent device, but it is let down hugely by the way many books have bad formatting of the text, or where the Optical Character Recognition process itself produces errors. I wonder if the Kindle books are proof-read at all?

This book is a perfect example of the way in which these errors turn what would otherwise be a useful book into a vehicle to confuse anyone who might wish to use it as a textbook, or at least an adjunct to school maths. In paper format it would be excellent and a good read for anybody wishing to brush up on or to take maths further than school.

Examples of the poor, or careless, format abound.

Mixed fractions are shown in different styles in different places, and it is often not clear what is meant. In one place "24/5" really means two and four fifths (2[space]4/5), but that is not how it appears. 0.6 recurring is shown as "0.6" (no dot over the 6), which is incorrect and confusing.

Many equations and things such as the square root sign are sometimes (but not every time) shown as ugly images, and grey with a lack of contrast. The "timeline" at the end of each topic is in incredibly small text and cannot be enlarged or even read.

Further difficulties and ambiguities show up in the logic section where the equivalence symbol (three horizontal lines) is rendered as an equals sign. Other special symbols such as the logical "and" are rendered as a question mark in a box.

Even Einstein's famous equation is in one place referred to as "E = xmc2" (the "2" is correctly shown in superscript). The equation is shown correctly on the next page!

In summary, this is a good book, but definitely to be avoided in Kindle format as the Kindle format is annoying, confusing and in some cases downright wrong.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By brutus on 3 July 2010
Format: Hardcover
this is the 3rd "50 ... You Really Need to Know" book I've read in a row - I've enjoyed the series so far, I bought the Genetics (very good) and the Economics one before this. Of the 3 I'd say this one was the least interesting. Its not bad, but you really really need to be into maths to enjoy it. I studied mathematics at university so some of the chapters were familiar, however if you are an average person who doesn't use calculus, geometry, rings and groups for a living, then you might find it a bit boring. If you are a mathematics student then this probably is of interest to you.
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