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Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities Paperback – 1 Jul 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books; First Edition edition (1 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846683459
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846683459
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

This is a superb Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities that deserves a place with the classics of the genre. (Mathematics today)

The book's goofy and unabashed enthusiasm will charm any interested teenager (Daily Telegraph)

interesting and illuminating... (BBC Focus)

Stewart has a genius for explanation ... Find a comfortable chair for some holiday puzzling: mathematics doesn't come more entertaining than this. (New Scientist)

A dizzying new book (Tim Radford Guardian)

There is plenty here for the curious newcomer to enjoy (Dr Martin Homer BBC Focus Magazine)

You don't need to be a maths guru . . . to enjoy his 'curiosities' (Good Book Guide)

This is not pure maths. It is maths contaminated with whit, wisdom, and wonder.Ian really is unsurpassed as raconteur of the world of numbers. He guides us on a mind-boggling journey from the ultra trivial to the profound. Thoroughly entertaining. (Jeremy Webb New Scientist)

'Stewart has served up the instructive equivalent of a Michelin-starred tasting menu, or perhaps a smorgasbord of appetisers. And of course, appetisers are designed to give you an appetite for more.' (Tim Radford Guardian)

Book Description

A book of mathematical oddities: games, puzzles, facts, numbers and delightful mathematical nibbles for the curious and adventurous mind.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 22 Oct. 2008
Format: Hardcover
a well written and witty look at hundreds of mathematical puzzles, stories and jokes. I am a maths teacher and there is so much material here, it's amazing. I have already used a few of these with my classes and the puzzles have really caught their imagination. Highly recommended

although the solution to the problem on page 143 is wrong
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Andy Gibson on 22 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
I picked this up to leaf through it the day it arrived, whilst already halfway through another book, AND I COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN!
Packed full of puzzles, and funny quirks of number patterns, this book is for readers of all abilities who have an interest in numerical gymnastics.
The other main component of the book is the history of mathematical research and development, in which Stewart gives an insight into the discovery of numerous maths theories and laws. And whilst this is -- at times -- heavy going, it's delivered in bite-size sections, interspersed throughout the book, which itself is given in tiny portions, allowing the reader to pick up and read at any time.
Brilliantly collected puzzles and stories with easy-to-understand solutions and explanations, Stewart's jovial delivery makes this book an unalloyed pleasure. 10/10!
Andy Gibson, 35, Fleet, Hampshire.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Meadows on 19 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This has been my "coffee table" book that I like to just dip into occasionally, when I have spare 5-10 minutes. This is because it's full of lots of little bits, with no overall narrative. It's not quite a school exercise book, but it does have quite a lot of puzzles for you to think through, some of which require some scribbling with some pen & paper or plugging numbers into a calculator. As well as these, there are lots of little vignettes of mathematical thought which inform but require less input from the reader.

So my initial advice for any readers of this would be get a notepad and some pens and keep them nearby. Fans of recreational mathematics will find much that is familiar here, as some problems recur in just about every such 'popular' level book on maths, such as the problem of the bridges of Konigsberg or lots of factoids about pi.

That may sound like damning with faint praise, but there is a depth of mathematics on display here that is rather splendid. Many of the ideas are really quite profound, yet the way they are presented makes them quite accessible. A non mathematician might disagree with me, but it may be interesting to find out from others if there are areas where they get stuck.

There is a general trend for the puzzles to get a little bit more difficult later on in the book. So we are given some treats that will be unfamiliar even to those who did maths at A-level. We deal with topics ranging from geometry, number theory, topology and even some complexity is thrown in at the end.

I probably ought to add that for any sections that ask questions there are answers provided at the back of the book.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Sean M. Bateman on 1 July 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is full of little gems, it's a great little read.
Forget about what some of the other comments said, if your a average person with average abilities in mathematics you should easily understand this book just as I did, I'm no brain box. If your not too good at math then maybe give this a miss, otherwise pick this book up and give it a read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jude the Obscure on 27 July 2011
Format: Paperback
I'm a (new) maths teacher, and found this book really enjoyable and interesting, both for me and for my pupils. Stewart has a great style - very accessible and friendly. However, I don't think it would be accessible to anyone who didn't do reasonably well in GCSE maths etc (i.e. that level of knowledge and technique is presumed).
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By warkwarkwoo on 27 Feb. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this book is perhaps one of his best books yet. the puzzles are varied enough to allow you to read through the whole book and/or dip in at various intervals. the presentation of the information and puzzles is very clear and consise and often leads to reading another of his books. however, the only bad point is that some of the puzzles have been done before by other books. excellent value for money and it has a charming style. suitable for first timers and the experienced
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. P. J. Jansen on 24 May 2010
Format: Hardcover
Writing popular books on mathematics is a subtle balancing act. If you make things too simple, then there will be people that complain that the book is not challenging or even boring. If you make things too complicated, then you lose much of your readership. Ian Stewart generally gets it just right. Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities is somewhat lower level than his How to Cut a Cake and Math Hysteria, but it is still interesting even for people with a good mathematical background. This is because Stewart does write about complicated things, but manages to make understandable.

Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities more than 200 entries. Many are about mathematical problems and puzzles (some for the reader to solve; solution are given), but there are also entries about the history of mathematics. There are quite a few things you may have encountered before if you are already longer interested in mathematics (for example there are entries on the four-colour theorem, the bridges of Koenigsberg, Fermat's last theorem, magic squares, degrees of separation, space-filling curves, Fibonacci numbers, the Moebius band, chaos theory, the Goldbach conjecture, Hilbert's hotel, Euler's formula, Goedel's theorems, the game of life, and many others), but there is a lot that you will not have seen before.

Personally I like How to Cut a Cake and Math Hysteria better, because these book delve deeper in the problems that they discuss, but I still highly recommend Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities.
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