A sharp, witty book to press on students and even the teachers of math teachers.




An original book using recipes to explain sophisticated math concepts to students and even the math-phobic.

In a chapter on generalization, Cheng (Mathematics/Univ. of Sheffield and Univ. of Chicago) begins with a recipe she adapted to produce a cake that was vegan as well as gluten-, sugar-, and dairy-free, thus extending the recipe’s usefulness to serve more people. A chapter on axiomatization describes the difference between basic ingredients and things you can make with basic ingredients (e.g., marmalade). Math uses basic ingredients—axioms—that are assumed to be true and proofs that use hard logic to derive new truths. That’s what math is all about, writes the author; it is different from science, which gathers evidence to draw conclusions. By this time, Cheng has introduced readers to number systems, groups and sets, algebra, and topology. She also discusses internal vs. external motivation. In cooking, this is the difference between looking at what is on the shelves and figuring out how to use it in a recipe you invent (internal motivation) versus having a recipe in mind and gathering all the ingredients you need to make it (external). The author laments the way math is often taught, with the teacher providing a problem to solve and students finding the correct answer. She is strongly internally motivated in the pursuit of her specialty, category theory. She calls it the mathematics of mathematics, a field that seeks the most abstract generalizable concepts in relation to the worlds of mathematical objects. Cheng explains how category theory works by emphasizing contexts, relationships, structure, and universal properties, giving examples. The reading is tougher going here, probably because readers are in a state she describes as believing what she is teaching but not fully understanding it. However, Cheng is such a gifted teacher, readers will want to dive in again.

A sharp, witty book to press on students and even the teachers of math teachers.

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-465-05171-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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