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on 11 March 2009
I approached this book with three questions in mind. Being mathematically trained I was curious about whether these really were ideas I didn't know about and needed to. On the other hand I thought about my past students embarking on their training - could they benefit from knowing these 50 ideas? Finally, I wondered if this book might inspire someone to begin to study mathematics, much in the way I was inspired as a novice by trying to read about relativity and finding myself staring into the face of a strange and enticing mystery. The answers were appealingly affirmative, which made me wonder what else it is about this little book that makes it so attractive. Yes, the layout is good with topics mainly restricted to bite-size 4-page spreads. Yes, the hand drawn diagrams give the book a friendly feel and, yes, 50 is a nice round number. But its real appeal lies in the way the author slowly wins the reader's trust and confidence. The author, as tour guide, is friendly and humorous, knows his stuff and communicates it well. In fact, the book is a Pandora's box of delights ranging across an extraordinary wide set of ideas. For instance, ideas 23 to 28 are listed as `Topology', `Dimension', `Fractals', `Chaos', `The parallel postulate' and `Discrete geometry', to list just a few of the enticing mysteries on offer. It is the sort of book I will return to again and again to extract new gems of mathematical insight or historical perspective. But it seems to work also at many levels - I have even had 14-year-old students read and enjoy parts of it. Remarkably, age and experience do not seem to be barriers, though I am always bound to look at it through possibly more practised eyes. Still, I feel completely confident in recommending it, especially to students either setting out on their mathematical studies or thinking about doing so.
62 people found this helpful
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on 5 October 2017
Well written with a good balance of conciseness for a coffee table read, that you can back to over and again
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on 9 March 2012
I studied mathematics at university many decades ago, and this book contained quite a few gems that I didn't know (or did I, and have forgotten?). I particularly liked the Golden Ratio that was derived from both Fibonacci numbers and the Golden Rectangle. Each of the 50 ideas are explained in just four pages. You don't need to be a mathematician to appreciate this book. I loved it.
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on 4 May 2013
Fifty ways to leave your mathemafobia. In 4 pages each, mathematical concepts and ideas are explained in simple language. They include the usual suspects (zero, primes, triangles) but also Bayes' theorem, infinity (and the continuum hypothesis), and the Riemann hypothesis. I'm sure Mini-me will love this in 2 or 3 years' time.
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on 16 September 2016
Great book for those enjoying maths challenges. It is not easy to read and I had to re-read some parts to make sure I fully understand them.
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on 3 January 2017
Lots of interesting historical applications of mathematics
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on 25 September 2017
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on 10 April 2018
I love this series
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on 23 September 2015
All as described, straight forward transaction.
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on 24 July 2015
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