Despite occasional nuggets of intrigue, wildly uneven and simply too disorganized to hold much interest or credibility.

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DNA of Mathematics

Debut author Basti, a mathematician, explains the wide-ranging significance of Riccati differential equations frequently used in studies of motion in physics and engineering.

The focus of Basti’s research, and thus his professional life, are Riccati differential equations. Having studied this class of equations, among others, Basti is of the opinion that Riccati equations are fundamental to mathematics and many other disciplines, and that a more developed understanding and theoretical structure regarding these equations would be of immense practical and intellectual benefit. As he explains in the opening chapters, he also believes that current modes of mathematical thought are insufficient to this challenge, as they are often rooted in assumptions and patterns that aren’t necessarily rigorous enough by his standards; a new mode of analysis is needed to revitalize such thought, he says. However, in attempting to tie various examples from multiple disciplines together to bolster his thesis, Basti winds up following too many threads and creating a narrative that lurches from one topic to another. Entire chapters are devoted to films, historical trivia, music, the role of Jews in modern science and their historical mistreatment, without serious attempts to tie together these disparate elements or show how they relate to other chapters on economics or engineering, where there are at least superficial reasons why his work might apply. Even when Basti gets to discussing the fundamentals of his work, which takes up the bulk of the book’s second half, he digresses into ruminations on God, the idea of an expanding vs. a static universe, and relativity. Furthermore, frequent digressions betray both a lack of organization and a limited understanding of the theories on which he comments, which he admits to on occasion, as with his remarks concerning the uncertainty principle: “I do not have the laboratory experience in physics to be able to better understand the uncertainty principle.”

Despite occasional nuggets of intrigue, wildly uneven and simply too disorganized to hold much interest or credibility.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4602-3956-8

Page Count: 280

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2015

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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