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Beyond Numeracy: Ruminations of a Numbers Man

Publisher: 
Vintage
Number of Pages: 
304
Price: 
15.95
ISBN: 
978-0679738077

This is a collection of brief (3 to 4-page) essays in various topics in mathematics, written for a general audience. The essays are arranged in alphabetical order by subject, but otherwise there is no particular organization or pattern to the book. The essays are lightly cross-referenced, and there is a good index. There are also corny jokes that appear unexpectedly in the middle of serious expositions. The book is not closely related to the author’s earlier similarly-titled book Innumeracy.

The book is slanted toward modern mathematics, and shows a good balance between keeping the exposition simple enough for a general reader and showing some useful mathematics. A lot of the topics will already be familiar to readers of popular math books, for example the bridges of Königsberg and Gödel’s theorem, but many are interesting and less-familiar. There is a modest amount of computer science included, dealing with artificial intelligence and complexity of computation.

My favorite topics in the book are coincidences, the French literary movement Oulipo, and the smidgen of Ramsey theory (in a group of six people, either there are three, all of whom know each other, or three, none of whom know each other).

Bottom line: an interesting, unusual, and only slightly-dated popular sampler of mathematics.


Allen Stenger is a math hobbyist and retired software developer. He is webmaster and newsletter editor for the MAA Southwestern Section and is an editor of the Missouri Journal of Mathematical Sciences. His mathematical interests are number theory and classical analysis. He volunteers in his spare time at MathNerds.org, a math help site that fosters inquiry learning.

Date Received: 
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Reviewable: 
Yes
Include In BLL Rating: 
Yes
John Allen Paulos
Publication Date: 
1992
Format: 
Paperback
Audience: 
Category: 
General
Allen Stenger
09/5/2013
BLL Rating: 

Introduction

A Mathematical Accent
Algebra—Some Basic Principles
Analytic Geometry
Arabic Numerals
Areas and Volumes
Binary Numbers and Codes
Calculus
Chaos Theory
Coincidences
Combinatorics, Graphs, and Maps
Complexity of Programs
Computation and Rote
Correlation, Intervals, and Testing
Differential Equations
E
Mathematics in Ethics
Exponential Growth
Fermat’s Last Theorem
Mathematical Folklore
Fractals
Functions
Game Theory
Gödel and His Theorem
Golden Rectangle, Fibonacci Sequences
Groups and Abstract Algebra
Human Consciousness, Its Fractal Nature
Humor and Mathematics
Imaginary and Negative Numbers
Impossibilities—Three Old, Three New
Mathematical Induction
Infinite Sets
Limits
Linear Programming
Matrices and Vectors
Mean, Median, and Mode
Möbius Strips and Orientability
Monte Carlo Method of Simulation
The Multiplication Principle
Music, Art, and Digitalization
Non-Euclidean Geometry
Notation
Oulipo—Mathematics in Literature
Partial Orderings and Comparisons
Pascal’s Triangle
Philosophy of Mathematics
Pi
Platonic Solids
Prime Numbers
Probability
The Pythagorean Theorem
QED, Proofs, and Theorems
The Quadratic and Other Formulas
Quantifiers in Logic
Rational and Irrational Numbers
Recursion—From Definitions to Life
Russell’s Paradox
Scientific Notation
Series—Convergence and Divergence
Sorting and Retrieving
Statistics—Two Theorems
Substitutability and More on Rote
Symmetry and lnvariance
Tautologies and Truth Tables
Time, Space, and Immensity
Topology
Trigonometry
Turing’s Test, Expert Systems
Variables and Pronouns
Voting Systems
Zeno and Motion

Chronological Listing of the “Top Forty”

Suggested Readings

Index 

Publish Book: 
Modify Date: 
Thursday, May 7, 2009

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