A great book for the bright and curious, including even kids at grade school level up to college and beyond.

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THE JOY OF X

A GUIDED TOUR OF MATH, FROM ONE TO INFINITY

A neat survey of the major fields of math by a professor adept at writing both popularizations and textbooks.

Strogatz (Applied Mathematics/Cornell Univ.; Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order, 2003, etc.) begins with counting and a reference to a Sesame Street video called 123 Count with Me, “the best introduction to numbers I’ve ever seen.” Throughout the book, the author never loses sight of the mystique and charm of numbers, and at the end, he explores concepts of infinity. There, Strogatz includes a classic proof of why some infinite systems of numbers contain more numbers than other infinite systems, an idea that shocked 19th-century mathematicians as much as the concept of imaginary numbers (the square roots of negative numbers) shocked their peers a century earlier. What’s remarkable about the author’s approach is that he conveys so much of the basic essences of the topics he covers, including algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, probability theory, vector analysis and group theory, and he often stresses intuition and visualization. His discussion of the Pythagorean theorem expertly shows how the squares on the sides of a right triangle can be added to make the square on the hypotenuse. Not surprisingly, Strogatz also emphasizes the utility of math, quoting the physicist Eugene Wigner on “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences.” In many cases, however, the author states the utility as a matter of fact rather than something to be proved—e.g., the ripples on a pond, the ridges of a sand dune and the stripes of a zebra, which reflect “the emergence of sinusoidal structure from a background of bland uniformity.” To learn why, readers should dig into the math more deeply.

A great book for the bright and curious, including even kids at grade school level up to college and beyond.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-51765-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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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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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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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