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Cows in the Maze: And other mathematical explorations Paperback – 1 Apr 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199562075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199562077
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 2.5 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 681,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

His easy style...makes the explanation of maths behind black holes, animal gait and time travel simple to digest. (Dominic Lenton, Engineering and Technology)

About the Author

Ian Stewart is Professor of Mathematics at Warwick University, and Director of the Mathematics Awareness Centre at Warwick. An active research mathematician, he is also a well-known popularizer of mathematics and related areas of science. In 1995 he was awarded the Royal Society's Michael Faraday Award for furthering the public understanding of science; his book Nature's Numbers was shortlisted for the 1996 Rhone-Poulenc Prize for Science Books; and he delivered the 1997 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, televised by the BBC. In 2001 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. His many books include Evolving the Alien (with Jack Cohen), The Science of Discworld, What Shape is a Snowflake? , Flatterland, The Magical Maze, Does God Play Dice? , and How toCut a Cake.


Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed Math Hysteria and How to Cut a Cake, and was looking forward to Ian Stewart's Cows in the Maze. Unfortunately, this book is rather disappointing. The other two books are filled with lesser known topics in recreational maths that are nevertheless very interesting and treated in quite some depth. Stewarts engaging style of writing encourages you to start thinking about the problems that he discusses yourself.

Cows in the Maze is very different. There are 21 chapters. Six deal with topics you will encounter in many other books (Hex, the distribution of prime numbers, incorrect reasoning in the legal system, knight's tours, the Klein bottle, and magic squares), and six are really on physics and not on mathematics (three chapters on time travel, one on the shape of drops, and one on self-organized criticality, one on real knots ). More disappointing however is the way the topics are treated. Many chapters are very superficial. The chapter on Hex is a good example. It only discusses bridge and ladders, which can both be explained in one or two sentences, and anyone starting to play the game will discover these things for himself after a few minutes. Other chapters give too little information to enable you start working in the problems yourself. It is, I think, telling that the feedback section of many chapters is quite small or even absent.

On the other hand there is too much stuff that I could have done without. In the chapter on the way quadrupeds walk, the main topic seems to be Tarzan and Jane. Also in the chapter on the shape of drops the story distracts too much from the mathematics. Klein bottles made of glass look nice, but it is not really mathematics.
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Format: Paperback
I've been looking forward to this book - which was delayed by almost a year after it was announced and am bit disappointed with the content - not as entertaining with his "recreational maths " as Ian Stewart's previous books like Maths hysteria as the topics are more physics and less recreational maths etc

Stewart covers mathematics of time travel, explores the shape of teardrops (physics ?) ,strategies for the game of Hex, and the title "Where Are the Cows?" maze, which changes every time you pass through it. He also covers on how to count magic squares, describes the mathematical patterns in animal movement (with a story more about Tarzan and Jane than the actual problem ) and the physics of sand piles etc though all embellished with wit , humour and delightful cartoons.

Another gripe is on the quality of binding as the book has come apart within 4-5 days and also why has the book size has been reduced from the earlier comfortable standard 9 x 6 to 7 x 5 as in math hysteria and How to cut a cake . Most inconvenient.
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Format: Paperback
Not having read the previous two books I had no preconceptions about Cows in the Maze. I found it entertaining and thought provoking. Although some chapters were not on the subject of maths they were very interesting, particularly time travel and topology.

After reading this I will definately read more recreational mathematics books, and after reading the other reviews I will probably start with Math Hysteria and How to Cut a Cake.
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OK, Believe me if I had been dissatisfied you would know by know.
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Excellent
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