Mathematician John Allen Paulos bravely bridges the scientific and literary cultures with this amusing, enlightening look at numbers and stories. If you think those two things go together like a "horse and a paperclip," as Allen wryly observes, you only have to look at phenomena like the Bible codes, the stock market's ups and downs, and the Clinton sex scandal to begin to understand the hidden bonds between them. Put simply, mathematics can describe everything that happens, and everything that happens contextualises mathematics. In demonstrating this, Paulos continues the noble numeracy crusade he began with A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper
and Beyond Numeracy
. Perhaps the most compelling thought experiments in the book are those of the statistics of stereotyping and race relations. Paulos shows, mathematically, that minority status makes achieving equality extraordinarily difficult.
If you want to keep hold of your comfortable worldview, don't read Once Upon a Number. But you'll be missing out on an unforgettable reminder of what chance, coincidence and odds really mean, along with several valuable life lessons that may help you understand lost socks, racism and mistaken identity. --Therese Littleton, Amazon.com
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
John Allen Paulos received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin and is professor of mathematics at Temple University. Dr. Paulos has written a number of scholarly papers on mathematical logic, probability, and the philosophy of science. He is also the author "of Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, Beyond Numeracy: Ruminations of a Numbers Man," "Mathematics and Humor," and "A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper." He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two children.