3.1416 AND ALL THAT by Philip J. & William G. Chinn Davis


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In case you've forgotten, 3.1416 is pi, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter which Ptolemy worked out to four decimals 1800 years ago and which has been figured to half a million places since. Why? is one of the questions the authors raise in the last of the many short, very readable, chapters in this book proving that mathematicians have some objectivity and even humor about their field. While one may be skeptical of math-for-fun books (is there not some terrible apologia implied there?) this one is very amusing. The students with bare beginnings of algebra and adults who have probably forgotten most can both read this book without feeling talked down to. Moreover in addition to explaining how to do some of the old favorite kinds of puzzles (the logical liar types, for example), the authors explore some of the classic problems of number theory, describe some interesting examples of geodesics in maps and puzzles and show a very fine ability to communicate some of the sophistication that goes into computer programming in their discussion of numerical analysis and the business of guessing answers and approximating errors.

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1969
Publisher: Simon & Schuster