I recently purchased another math text with a view to owning a book concerning interesting issues in the area of mathematics. That title proved a little complex and probably more suited to a math expert rather than an interested outsider like myself. 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.
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Every time I browse in a bookshop (real or vitual) I always hope I will find a book that allows me to understand ideas that I was previously ignorant of, or that I failed to fully understand the first time around. I believe that Burger and Starbird's book definitelty falls into this exclusive catagory.
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.