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on 14 August 2007
Every writer of 'popular' books on math must make a difficult decision about the balance between formulas and stories. Nahin has chosen to take the formulas serious and to reduce the story to witty comments and historical facts about mathematicians accompanying the hard stuff. I must admit it was a bit too daunting for me. So I skipped a lot of the formal treatment and read what I could follow. I finally got an idea why a Fourier transform is so important and for the first time in my life I understood why a Maclaurin or Taylor series is useful and how they came into life.
My friends, who were with me during a week of vacation in the South of France, think I'm raving mad to read this kind of stuff while they were beside the swimming pool. But at least, I won't get melanoma! Thanks Paul!
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on 27 July 2014
I have not read all of this yet, only a part of it. That it is by an engineer would not appeal to the snobbish, the disciples of GH Hardy, for example (perhaps). It is so clearly brilliant! Formulas and proofs are what mathematics is about. They seem within my grasp wherever I open the book. I know that time spent here will be well spent.
How interesting that Euler could recite the whole of the Aeneid. So could Prof AJ Aitken of Edinburgh, my first teacher there. Now I see why he bothered. I do not much care for it myself. And why Prof John Conway of Princeton could recite pie to 500 decimals (and more!) like Aitken. It is all homage to Euler (well, mostly).
I have found the book very clear and it is full of wonders and very accessible. I am greatly indebted to Paul Nahin. He has written something very important. He is an enthusiast and a scholar who can explain anything clearly. He is, for example, in a different league altogether from someone like Prof Stewart of Warwick. Imagine if I had read this before going up? It is miles better than Hardy's book. My best students would have been devouring it before they went up had it been available then.
This is a very well published book by Princeton with a beautiful cover.
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on 24 April 2013
Nahin's style of writing is gripping, lucid and exciting: he brings the subject to life and gives it real vibrancy, so one can not fail to enjoy this book. But it requires a fair amount of mathematical background if it is to be read fluently, in particular with the handling of Fourier Transforms, convolutions etc.
I was surprised by the detailed handling of the Gibbs phenomenon, and the fact that it should by rights be called the Wilbraham phenomenon. Nahin writes as though Wilbrahim is a new addition to the mathematical firmament, but he isn't. I was able to reference the matter straight away in 2 of my own books (Grattan-Guinness, From Calculus to Set Theory, p129; and G H Hardy, Divergent Series, p20).
Nahin's applied mathematical leanings are apparent from his choice of chapter headings (Vector Trips, and Electronics). I should have liked to see something about the Cauchy-Riemann equations and conformal mappings: I'm sure that Nahin would work wonders on the possibilities here.
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on 23 June 2015
A bit too heavy if you're not a mathematics graduate. Otherwise.....
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on 17 June 2013
As another reviewer has pointed out this book is a long series of formulas and equations. I had hoped for more description and explanation along the way, but the author thinks that everyone will fully understand any formula he uses, so the book is little more than a long series of formulas one after the other. The various different topics covered are all lists of formulas as he transforms an initial formula into another one, and so on, showing that some "classic" formula or other is true.

I've read a number of other maths books for the ordinary person on e and pi and the golden ratio, and had no problems and enjoyed the discussions of how those numbers crop up in other aspects of life, and how they can be used in various ways. There is none of that here. I think in the Introduction he states something about the maths being enough in itself, so he does not need to add additional explanation or examples of practical uses.

The maths itself within the book may well be correct, but I could not be bothered trying to follow it all. And it is some pretty advanced stuff, though the author claims anyone who has done any advanced level maths courses would be okay. There is no introduction to any maths techniques he uses - he just dives in and gets on with it. I was shocked by the use of matrices early on within the first chapter, when he is supposed to be still discussing just "numbers". He throws in a lot of other maths stuff in that first chapter, which just made my head spin. If that was just the first chapter, then what would the others be like? Too much for me, that is certain.
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on 26 January 2015
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on 27 February 2015
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