The Grapes of Math: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life Hardcover – 10 Jun 2014
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"Another sparkling romp through the world of numbers, with the inimitable Alex Bellos as your friendly, informed, and crystal-clear guide. A brilliant successor to Here's Looking at Euclid."--Ian Stewart, Professor of Mathematics, University of Warwick, and author of Visions of Infinity
"Love the book! Fresh, fascinating and endlessly charming. A splendiferous book altogether."--Tim Harford, Financial Times, author of The Undercover Economist Strikes Back
"See, numbers don't have to be scary!"--Evan Davis
"Alex Bellos' "The Grapes of Math" is a delicious grab bag of mathematical miscellany that includes Benford's law, fractals, exponentials and imaginary numbers, the Game of Life, among many other goodies, all presented in a most entertaining style. Both fun and instructive."--John Allen Paulos is the author of several books including Innumeracy and A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper
"Alex Bellos "The Grapes of Math" is a delicious grab bag of mathematical miscellany that includes Benford s law, fractals, exponentials and imaginary numbers, the Game of Life, among many other goodies, all presented in a most entertaining style. Both fun and instructive."--John Allen Paulos is the author of several books including Innumeracy and A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper"
"Think of the best storyteller you know and the coolest teacher you ever had, and now you ve got some idea of what Alex Bellos is like. His Grapes of Math taught me something new on every page. Better yet, it made me laugh and want to tell someone what I d just read. Math has never been so much fun."--Steven Strogatz, professor of applied mathematics, Cornell University, and author, The Joy of x" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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If you enjoy passages like this (where numbers in parentheses should be read as exponents):
"Thanks to Cartesian coordinates, the quadratics were revealed to be the conic sections. In other words, every quadratic equation describes a conic section, and every conic section can be described by a quadratic equation. Two of the most researched and pondered-over areas of mathematics were nothing but alternative representations of each other. The general quadratic equation Ax(2) + Bxy + Cy(2) + Dx + Ey + F = 0, where A, B, C, D, E and F are constants, and at least one of A, B and C is nonzero, always plots a conic section on a coordinate graph, and vice versa: any conic section drawn on a graph can be expressed by the above equation. In the illustration above, the equation for the ellipse is 2x(2) + y(2) + 8x = 0, and the equation for the parabola, which sits diagonally on the page, is 16x(2) - 24xy + 9y(2) - 38x - 84y +121 = 0."
Then you'll love this book. Also, if you think this (not from the book) is hilarious:
A: "What is the integral of 1/cabin?"
B: "log cabin."
A: "Nope, houseboat--you forgot the C."
You'll probably also love this book. Don't get the joke? You won't get the book either.
The book is not a technical explanation but invites the reader to play: whether it is origami to produce a parabola, rolling one coin over another, or looking for patterns in your cup to tea. However, the concepts are expressed clearly and convincingly.
The complex dynamic interaction between development of mathematics and its applications: motivations, personalities and serendipity in complex feedback loops , shows what a wonderfully human endeavour Mathematics is.
I loved this book. Although many of the topics are long-time favorites - Benford's Law, Euler's formula, Game of Life, Ulam and von Neumann, Bellos' treatment added new levels of both background and depth in satisfying and useful forms - more history of the participants in the development of the mathematical topics, information on recent developments, including interviews with current players in the various fields, and enough actual equations to see some of what was going on behind the drapes which few other authors ever open to display the workings of the machinery. Bellos was smart to put many of the details into appendices to avoid distraction.
Now I need to go back and read his first book.