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A Mathematical Space Odyssey: Solid Geometry in the 21st Century

Claudi Alsina and Roger B. Nelsen

Solid geometry is the traditional name for what we call today the geometry of three-dimensional Euclidean space. Courses in solid geometry have largely disappeared from American high schools and colleges. The authors are convinced that a mathematical exploration of three-dimensional geometry merits some attention in today’s curriculum. A Mathematical Space Odyssey: Solid Geometry in the 21st Century is devoted to presenting techniques for proving a variety of mathematical results in three-dimensional space, techniques that may improve one’s ability to think visually.

Special attention is given to the classical icons of solid geometry (prisms, pyramids, platonic solids, cones, cylinders, and spheres) and many new and classical results: Cavalieri’s principle, Commandino’s theorem, de Gua’s theorem, Prince Rupert’s cube, the Menger sponge, the Schwarz lantern, Euler’s rotation theorem, the Loomis-Whitney inequality, Pythagorean theorems in three dimensions, etc. The authors devote a chapter to each of the following basic techniques for exploring space and proving theorems: enumeration, representation, dissection, plane sections, intersection, iteration, motion, projection, and folding and unfolding. In addition to many figures illustrating theorems and their proofs, a selection of photographs of three-dimensional works of art and architecture are included. Each chapter includes a selection of Challenges for the reader to explore further properties and applications. A Mathematical Space Odyssey concludes with solutions to all the Challenges in the book, references, and a complete index.

Readers should be familiar with high school algebra, plane and analytic geometry, and trigonometry. While brief appearances of calculus do occur, no knowledge of calculus is necessary to enjoy this book.

The authors hope that both secondary school and college and university teachers will use portions of it as an introduction to solid geometry, as a supplement in problem solving sessions, as enrichment material in a course on proofs and mathematical reasoning, or in a mathematics course for liberal arts students.

288 pp., 2015

Electronic ISBN 9781614442165


Other books by Alsina and Nelsen

When Less Is More
Charming Proofs
Icons of Mathematics
Math Made Visual

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