Applied Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 22 Feb. 2018
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a compact ... pocket book that is entertaining to read (Adhemar Bultheel, European Mathematical Society)
What a marvelous little book! With snappy writing, illuminating graphics, fascinating examples, unconventional insights, and goofy humor, Alain Goriely conveys what modern applied mathematics truly is and why it matters. (Professor Steven Strogatz, Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics, Cornell University)
The book is an extremely valuable source of inspiration about the importance of applied mathematics. (zbMATH)
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It gives a modern view of the applications of mathematics with delightful examples and great humour.
It also provides historical context of current research topics in applied mathematics.
This book is very well written and accessible to non-specialists.
It is a must-read for anyone interested in mathematics and its applications.
One thing I would have liked to have seen, but didn't get, was more of an exploration of the boundary between applied maths and theoretical physics. (Cambridge even has a 'Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics'.) I appreciate that some applied mathematics is used in other disciplines, but it does seem that the bulk of it is in physics, and the distinction between what an applied mathematician and a theoretical physicist does seems fairly fuzzy, to say the least.
After the introduction, Goriely starts with simple applications, such as working out the cooking time for a turkey, through more and more complex uses, gradually adding in more powerful mathematics. Although you don't need to know how to use the heavier duty tools, you will meet differential equations and even partial differential equations along the way. The trouble with familiar applications, of course, is that it's easy to get lost in the reality of it, which left me worrying for Goriely's health. He reckons a 5 kg turkey cooks in 2.5 hours, where Delia Smith (who surely knows better) would give it at least 4 hours. I'm with Delia on this.
There's some really good material here on the use of dimensions and scaling, but already the way the information is presented is becoming quite difficult to absorb. Not surprisingly there are equations - but they are used far too liberally, while technical terms are introduced often without explanation, or with explanations that don't really work. We move on to mathematical modelling and solving equations. Once again, simply following the argument is difficult without already having a reasonable grasp of at least A-level maths.
There are all sorts of good things covered in the book, from knot theory (and its relevance to DNA) to JPEG compression. It's just a shame that, either because the book is so short, or because the author expects too much of the reader, the information in it is not presented in a way that is particularly accessible.
Top international reviews
Besides, who can resist a book whose chapters begin with epigraphs courtesy of the Marx Brothers' wit and wisdom.
Thank you Dr. Goriely, this little book reinforced my intention of pursuing studies in applied mathematics.