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Why Do Buses Come in Threes: The Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The first chapter begins with numbers that occur frequently in plants, explaining why four-leafed clovers are rare. Depending on the species, plants tend to have three leaves like clovers, or five leaves like buttercups, pansies and primroses, rather than four. The chapter then describes more curiosities about numbers and ratios that occur in plants.
The ninth chapter deals with the title of the book, explaining why buses that begin their journeys at evenly spaced intervals and travelling along the same route don't usually arrive at their destination at evenly spaced intervals. The author suggests that it is quite common for a bus to catch up the one ahead, but that it is most unlikely that a third bus will catch these two, so buses may come in twos but rarely threes.
Other chapters deal with route planning, opinion polls, betting, apparent coincidences, angles, making tea, cutting cake, secret codes, sports rankings, game theory, set theory, map reading, traffic jams, queues, scheduling, logic and deduction. If some of these sound intimidating, don't worry as they are all presented in an easy-going style that makes them more interesting than they might otherwise be.
The final chapter presents a few mathematical tricks that you can play on unsuspecting children as a good way to get them interested in numbers. All in all, this book presents mathematics in an entertaining and easily accessible way.Read more ›
The problem though is that by trying to make it simple for people with no maths background, the authors went too far - they hint on mathematical explanations for some of the topics presented, but they never get to actually present the maths, albeit in a simple form.
It's not enough to have someone telling you that some mundane phenomena is explained by maths, you should take the time to actually explain the maths behind it, and this book fails in doing that.
Have you ever wondered why flowers often have five petals, how bookies' odds work, how you always end up in the slowest queue, or, indeed, why buses come in threes? If so, then this is the book for you.
In the course of a humorous, chatty discourse on the mysteries of life the authors introduce a number of branches of mathematics, including probability, topology, statistics and queuing theory, to name just a few.
To aid casual readers or those who've previously found the subject forbidding the maths is kept at a fairly simple level. However there's still enough detail to be useful in other applications. I used this book as a reminder when trying to solve a problem related to software performance, and others who don't exercise their maths every day might also find it a useful memory jogger.
Whether as an introduction if you've never enjoyed maths before, or a reminder if you have, I thoroughly recommend this book. I can also recommend the companion volume "How Long is a Piece of String?"
After three unsuccessful attempts to read The Magical Maze by Ian Stewart, I found this book on the shop shelves and thought I'd give it a go.
Outstanding. Where The Magical Maze illustrates nature's relationship with maths but fails to explain it, this book succeeds and then some.
This was an absolute pleasure to read and taught me things that my school teachers should have, had they had the imagination and enthusiasm of the authors.
The greatest revelation was how counter-intuitive a lot of fairly simple mathematical problems are.
I now feel cleverer than when I started the book which can only be a good thing!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really enjoyable read. As an A-Level mathematician it was definitely accessible for my level but problems are explained from the very basics, and in everyday language, meaning... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
I love this kind of book;popular science for adults that I can also use to intrigue my children. There were some interesting things in here but at the end it just felt a bit thin. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
Of interest to those who like to analyse why events happen, probability etc. Generally easy to follow with clear examples explaining the theory. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Paul
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