A charming story, well worth slogging through the heavy loads of math.



A young Irishwoman’s account of the mathematical studies that made her Young Scientist of the Year.

Flannery, now a first-year student at Cambridge, grew up solving logic puzzles posed by her father, a math teacher (and her collaborator here). In the beginning chapters, she offers the reader a selection of those brainteasers, many of which depend on mathematical reasoning. So when her high school science teacher recruited her to enter Ireland’s Young Scientist competition, Sarah’s father steered her toward a project with a strong math basis: cryptography, the encoding and decoding of messages. This once-cumbersome process is now handled by sophisticated computer programs based on number theory—especially the factoring of very large numbers. Sarah decided to concentrate on the programming aspect, to give herself hands-on experience with the computer work. But first she had to learn the relevant mathematics. To bring the reader up to speed, the authors step back from Sarah’s story to present the mathematical foundations of modern cryptology: prime numbers, factoring, and other arcana of number theory. This section is in many ways the meat of the story, accessible to anyone not totally allergic to equations. As Sarah learned the math, she spotted an alternative to the standard RSA algorithm on which modern cryptology is based, and soon her project turned into an exposition of her new method—which in time won her honors as Young Scientist of the Year not only in Ireland, but in all of Europe. The latter chapters tell of the competitions, her preparation and her bouts of nerves, her genuine surprise at winning, and the sometimes-exasperating aftermath as the media discovered her and turned her (for a while, at least) into a celebrity.

A charming story, well worth slogging through the heavy loads of math.

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7611-2384-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001

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



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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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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