From Zero to Infinity, Constance Reid, 2005, (5th edition), 208pp., $19.95, paperbound, ISBN: 1-56881-273-6. AK Peters, Ltd., 888 Worcester Street, Wellesley, MA 02482 www.akpeters.com
From Zero to Infinity is a highly-readable history of numbers. The development of numbers from 0 through aleph null and beyond as discussed in this book is easily understood by both educators and their students alike. The chapters are of manageable lengths, and they can be read independently of each other.
The story begins with the concept of and symbol for zero. Its place in history is indeed a fascinating account. The other chapters introduce the reader to the integers, primes and composites, rational numbers, and the concept of infinity. Although most educators are familiar with topics such as the Cantor diagonalization process, the reader of this book is introduced to these ideas in everyday, simple, language, thereby making them accessible to everyone.
There are a number of “quiz questions” at the end of each chapter, and these can lead to some good discussions among students. Since, in many cases, official state prescribed testing has eliminated many of the standard Number Theory topics, this is a good way to familiarize students with these concepts. Reading and discussing a chapter each month would be a welcome addition to mid- and higher-level courses.
I highly recommend this book for inclusion in the classroom and/or school library. I had the book on my desk, and several students picked it up and borrowed my own copy. They were fascinated with the book, read it cover-to-cover, and provided me with the opportunity to supplement the book’s material in following classroom discussions. It’s a great read at a great price!
Lynn Godshall, Susquehanna Township High School, Harrisburg, PA