Top critical review
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A book providing some insight into the world of mathematics
on 27 July 2013
I had expected this to be a book outlining some of the advanced theories and formulae of mathematics. On the contrary, it was largely concerned with rather fundamental aspects of maths, such as what is meant by numbers, the concept of infinity, how to handle multiple dimensions, geometry, etc. I found this unexpected approach to be quite refreshing and informative. It gave me a feel for how mathematicians think, and how they approach problems. Of particular interest were explanations on how mathematicians set about proving a theory, such as a confirming that the square root of two is an irrational number. Mathematicians take nothing for granted, and everything has to be proved, step by step, all the way back to first principles. Some insight was also provided on solutions that mathematicians regard as being elegant, or even beautiful, these being seen as a cut above more "ugly" proofs.
Admittedly, significant chunks of the book were beyond me and I was unable to follow the reasoning used, such as was the case with much of the chapter on geometry. Nevertheless, it has to be said that no advanced maths were needed to understand these sections but what would have come in handy was to have read the book with a pen and pad of paper at my side so that I could have jotted some points down to help reinforce the arguments being presented. In mitigation, I should point out that I read the Kindle version and flipping from one page to another, which was essential for following some points, is not so easy on a Kindle as with a conventional book. All the same, it is certainly a book that requires effort on the part of the reader to fully digest its contents.
Other than school text books, this is the first book I've read on maths. Whilst I found it interesting, I don't feel driven to read any further books on this subject. So it could be said that the book has failed spark a desire to find out more which should be the hallmark of an outstanding book.