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3.6 out of 5 stars
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3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 2 February 2012
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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on 12 June 2012
A good introduction to maths for someone who wants to know what maths is for, without being exposed to any really hard sums. There's just enough historical background and plenty of well-chosen examples. Its coverage is wide-ranging but quite shallow, so you'll want to know more about the topics that take your interest: unfortunately there isn't a reading list.
A recommended book if it meets your needs. But I have to advise against buying the Kindle version; it's full of typos and font problems. It seems that the publishers have saved themselves some money by doing the cheapest possible Kindle transcription and skipping the proofreading stage entirely. Publishers want to charge a lot of money for ebooks; but they also want to cut costs to the bone. The result is unhappy customers - I won't be buying any more '50 Ideas ...' ebooks.
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on 17 July 2012
I started off enjoying this book but soon found that it has clearly been scanned from a paper copy, not produced for the Kindle. Most chapters have introductions - which sort of almost work, but footnotes appear in the middle of the text and break the flow totally. Font sizes fluctuate semi-randomly.
But worst of all, some mathematical symbols just do not appear and others are just plain wrong (e.g., the symbols for "member of a set" and "not a member of a set" are shown as the same thing).

I would not recommend this on the kindle at all. IF you want it, go for the paper version or lobby amazon to increase the quality of this sort of book. (Let's face it, there is no reason for modern books to be scanned in!)
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on 10 January 2012
I was intrigued to find out what the author considered to be the 50 mathematical ideas that I really needed to know so I tock the plunge and bought the book (Kindle version). It has turned out to be an absolute delight to read and even given the subject matter a book that I have found hard to put down. To me this is not so much a book about subjective ideas of relevance or interest but a superb overview of many related and diverse areas of mathematics.

It is written at a level that I would consider accessible to anyone with an inquisitive mind and an understanding of just the very basics of mathematics. The subjects are not arranged chronologically - although it dips nicely into the history of each subject - and each chapter can be read pretty much in isolation from the others.

I will be using this book to remind me of the fundamentals of certain subjects as and when I dig deeper into them. On the back of this book I have just purchased Prime Obsession which explores in depth the Riemann Hypothesis which the author admirably introduces as the ultimate chapter of this wonderfully concise book.

My only criticism would be the inclusion of the chapter on Relativity which seems out of sorts with the rest of the book being more a branch of Physics than pure mathematics. This chapter also appears hastily written and to me is most definitely the weakest element in the book.

In summary highly recommended.
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on 7 March 2013
Unfortunately the Kindle version of this is flawed, probably due OCR problems. For example on the chapter concerning fractions some of the fractions are depicted as small squares that ruins the whole readability of the book.
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on 6 March 2016
Simple enough but with enough detail to make it worth reading for the information, but for me this was much harder to follow since maths was never my strong point of interest. Worth having nonetheless.
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on 18 October 2014
Nothing too much to fry the neutrons, but well written, accessible and an enjoyable read. It is a text that I will re-read and dip into from time to time. Would recommend.
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on 17 December 2013
able to be dipped in to though a good introduction to mathematics development throughout history. It does need some background knowledge.
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on 10 September 2013
But it was good holiday reading! Reminded me of things that I'd forgotten and introduced me to things I never knew I needed to know!
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on 8 September 2013
Made me stop and think about lots of concepts I have always taken for granted. A second volume would be very welcome!
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