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The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Mathematics, from One to Infinity Paperback – 6 Mar 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (6 Mar. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848878451
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848878457
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 65,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Strogatz's graceful prose is perfectly pitched for a popular maths book: authoritative without being patronising, friendly without being whimsical, and always clear and accessible. His x marks the spot - and hits it.' Alex Bellos, author of Alex's Adventures in Numberland --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Steven Strogatz is the professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University. A renowned teacher, and one of the world's most highly-cited mathematicians, he received MIT's E.M. Baker Award, the only institute-wide teaching prize selected solely by students. He is the author of several textbooks, as well as the bestseller Sync and The Calculus of Friendship. He lives in Ithaca, New York, with his wife Carole and their two daughters.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Gerund on 16 Mar. 2014
Format: Hardcover
I spotted this book in 'The Works' and it looked as if it might have promise. Having quickly flicked through it I put it back on the rack. I am always looking for books that might give some ideas for the classroom, but was a little reluctant to buy yet another 'popular' maths book that failed to deliver; so many of them are yet another tour through numbers et al, from the Babylonians to Hilbert's Hotel, trying desperately to convince the reader that it is all so interesting and fun ...yawn, zzzzzzzzzzz. Why so many of these 'popular' maths books manage to make the subject so incredibly boring is beyond me; what is the point of boring the very audience one has decided to inspire? But when I returned to 'The Works' the next time I walked past (and unable to resist the magnetic pull of a bookshop)I had another browse. The endorsement by Alex Bellos, author of the captivating "Alex's Adventures in Wonderland" clinched it for me; if it was anywhere near as good, it was going to be worth the few discounted pounds that 'The Works' were asking. It was worth a punt.

And it turned out to be good; very, very good. I really recommend it to anyone with an interest in mathematics. It's knowledgeable and fun. Yes, it does talk about the Babylonians and Hilbert's Hotel, but I suppose in a book subtitled 'A guided tour of mathematics from one to infinity', they were bound to crop up! But where this book really wins is that it doesn't try to cover everything and succeed in actually covering very little.

Steven Strogatz is the Schurman Professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University, and (according to the blurb) is one of the world's mostly highly cited mathematicians. This could be a guarantee of uninspired writing BUT it certainly isn't in this case.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Man o' Suffolk on 31 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As I stagger through my sixties, I'm finding renewed interest and excitement in books about subjects that I studied at school and university forty to fifty years ago. Back then all text books were turgid and we learned subjects to pass exams. Strogatz brings a fresh way of exploring maths topics and explaining their purpose - I would have found it much easier and more rewarding if this approach had been around in the mid 60s
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jean Michel on 12 April 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Steven Strogatz's book 'The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Mathematics, from One to Infinity' is just that; a relatively superficial guided tour of a broad range of mathematical topics. Like a 2 hour tour of an historical monument, the quality of the guide makes a great difference to the experience; fortunately, Steven Strogatz is one of the better guides. One can understand why he won MIT's E.M.Baker Award, which is the 'only institute-wide teaching prize selected solely by students.'

His style is relaxed and chatty, but one never doubts that he knows his subject. Even where it is not his specialisation (e.g. Probability Theory), he has the good grace to admit it. The book requires little knowledge of maths beyond a reasonable grade at GCSE in order to follow along the author's explanations of why things are the way they are in maths. This is the great differentiator of this book; it is not in any way intended as a text book on maths and anyone seeking to review their knowledge of maths in depth will need to go elsewhere. The Appendix offers some more in-depth explanation of some of the more challenging concepts or ideas, at the same time its entries include a host of bibliographical information for anyone wanting to read up on a particular topic in more depth. Hence the book provides a complementary read that explains the history and/or the purpose behind certain mathematical concepts, which marries well with the more standard explanations found in textbooks on the subjects.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Joiner on 7 April 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some interesting takes on maths that had me smiling, and actually laughing out loud in a couple of places.

Pity maths teachers were the way they were when I was at school, when math was something to be dreaded for the fear of falling asleep and being woken with a clip round the ear - literally in those days!

It helps to know WHY something is done the way it is and, more interestingly, HOW the method came about in one of those "Jeez, how obvious!" moments that no one but the occasional genius has.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By r woodcock on 18 April 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is great for the over 50's and for my 11yr old who I bought it for in the first place.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By JC KINGSWOOD on 24 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have always been interested in maths but last formally studied it at GCSE O level. Since then I have read many books some very good but have never had more than a 90% understanding of the subject, even though I know how to use it.
This book starts at the very beginning explaining each step clearly & amusingly. After reading it I have at last gained an intuitive undersatnding of how & why maths works.
This should be come a standard textbook for every student & a go to 1st for all enthusiasts.
Thank you Prof Strogatz.
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