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Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics

Sarah Glaz and Joanne Growney, editors
A K Peters
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Herbert E. Kasube
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How do I love this book? Let me count the ways…

The intersection of mathematics and the arts is nonempty and this volume masterfully describes the contents of that intersection.

Glaz and Growney have gathered together a wide range of poems. Some are contemporary, some date back many centuries, and some they wrote themselves. Selections are chosen for either their mathematical content or, in some cases, their style. For example, there is a 1597 square poem in honor of Elizabeth I. Another consists of one-hundred “decimals” — ten-line stanzas with ten syllables per line.

Some representative mathematical titles are “We shall find the cube of the rainbow”, “Parabolic Ballad”, “God loves a curve”, “Calculus” and “ Let us now praise prime numbers”. There are many more, too many to mention in this short review.

The authors have included notes about the contributors and information about the mathematicians who are mentioned. This latter feature makes the book even more appealing to a wider audience. Students of mathematics can learn a little history of mathematics and nonmathematicians can appreciate some of the poems more.

This wonderful volume could be used in a number of ways — supplemental reading in a history of mathematics course, reading in a poetry or literature course. Or just read it for fun.

Herbert Kasube is Professor of Mathematics at Bradley University in Peoria, IL.