- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; New Ed edition (17 Oct. 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393329313
- ISBN-13: 978-0393329315
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,600,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Coincidences, Chaos and All That Math Jazz: Making Light of Weighty Ideas Paperback – 17 Oct 2006
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I once had a math teacher who used to throw books at us. If only this had been one of them.--Ben Longstaff
Informative, intelligent, and refreshingly irreverent. A roller-coaster ride along the frontiers of today s mathematics, and anyone can climb on board. I enjoyed it immensely.--Ian Stewart, author of Flatterland"
About the Author
Edward B. Burger is professor of mathematics and chair at Williams College. He has won several prestigious teaching and writing awards from the Mathematical Association of America. He lives in Massachusetts. Michael Starbird is a University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin and is a member of UT's Academy of Distinguished Teachers. He lives in Texas.
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Top Customer Reviews
Starbird and Burger's text is an excellent overview of current issues in mathematics and statistics, with some interesting insight as to how mathematics is (1) a surprisingly large part of everyday life and (2) a very interesting exercise in understanding quite complex ideas.
While the book is a slow starter, and may appear a little simplistic initally, it soon grows into a very interesting read in a variety of subject areas.
Some personal favorite subjects covered are:
* Intuition versus reality - folding paper and fitting all humankind into a box
* Making sense of data - some great stats examples of why to be careful when interpreting infomation
* A great explanation of the fourth dimension
The books illustrations are a big bonus, with some in particular making the subject matter much easier to digest (e.g. cards on a table edge, the fourth dimension)
A great book for those who love mathematics, but are perhaps stronger conceptually than thay may be in the mechanics of the subject.
If I had to recommend a formal study guide for maths - I would go for K A Stroud's Engineering Mathematics series but for those interested in recreational maths - I've yet to find anything to better "Coincidences Chaos and All That Maths Jazz".
I believe that the authors are to be congratulated for making potentially complex mathematical ideas readily understandable to those with only a basic (or rusty) knowledge of the subject - I even managed to use this book for bedtime reading - a slot I usually reserve for novels.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I like math, and was a relatively good math student, but I never really understood many of the subtleties underlying advanced mathematical principles; rather, I just memorized them as a chore, and applied them. No more. This book has helped open my eyes to some of the mathematical world's underlying beauty and mystery.
The book ranges widely over numerous subjects, but the ones I found most interesting were the discussions of chaos theory, the aesthetics of the Golden Ratio (and Fibonacci numbers), and the peculiarities and curiosities of topology. Using examples that are deceptively simple, like paper folding ("Origami For The Origamically Challenged"), ancient Greek architecture and the related "Golden Rectangles" ("Their proportions are breathtaking to behold. Such a rectangle is the quintessence of rectangularity, the sine qua non of rectangleosity, the sexiest rectangle ever."), pineapples, and tavern puzzles, Starbird and Burger manage to simultaneously entertain and educate any audience, regardless of previous mathematical proclivities.
The authors have a great sense of fun, clearly love writing, teaching, and entertaining, and they are never above poking fun at themselves, as in this example from a discussion of the topology of knots: "A mathematical knot is simply a closed loop of string that may or may not be knotted. The simplest knot is a loop that contains no knot at all and is called the unknot. (The fact that the math community refers to the unknot as a knot is reason #73 why people tend to avoid socializing with mathematicians.)"
I love this book, and found eminently readable, enjoyable, and educational. As an aside, I have previously watched (and reviewed) Dr. Starbird's "Meaning From Data: Statistics Made Clear" on DVD, and highly endorse that as well. Clearly Starbird and Burger are talented mathematicians, brilliant minds, and great teachers: I wish I had had math teachers like them. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
The chapter on chaos theory was the best I read ... made me think so much about how human life and its eventual end can be put into context by studying the chaos theory of math.
Its definitely a good book to have for now and for future generations so they dont grow up fearing math but rather enjoying its magic !