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

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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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