COINCIDENCES, CHAOS, AND ALL THAT MATH JAZZ by Edward B. Burger

COINCIDENCES, CHAOS, AND ALL THAT MATH JAZZ

Making Light of Weighty Ideas

KIRKUS REVIEW

The average American has one testicle and one ovary, state the authors of this text for the math-phobic. They are quite right.

That statistics are misleading is comically demonstrated by Burger (Mathematics/Williams Coll.) and Starbird (Mathematics/Univ. of Texas, Austin). These antic authors make accessible information about cosmology and topology, some theories of chance and randomness, and thoughts about fractals, factors, Fibonaci progressions and use of a quincunx. Readers will discover how two accurate computers can yield different answers to the same problem and will learn many facts about the square of the hypotenuse. Instruction on how to reverse your pants while your ankles are tied together may not be part of the usual math course, but it is prime Burger and Starbird. They have our number, and from Turing’s thinking machines to LeCorbusier’s use of the Golden Triangle, it’s all calculated to appeal. Let them count the ways they love numbers: prime, infinite or even twice infinite. (Yes, they discuss that concept too.) They leap from academia to engage nerdy enthusiasts and the seriously math-challenged alike. “There are,” they declare, “three types of people: those who count precisely and those who don’t.” The gags and the countless puns may strain, but the teaching is lucid and accessible. Throughout, the illustrations make excellent additions as the authors enumerate the charms and grandeurs of numbers.

A bit of math in a nutshell, totaling fun.

Pub Date: Aug. 29th, 2005
ISBN: 0-393-05945-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2005




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