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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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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