Books shelved under “Mathematics”

25 reviews found

  1. Book cover for Finding Zero

    Finding Zero: A Mathematician's Odyssey to Uncover the Origins of Numbers

    by Amir D. Aczel

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    The origins of our numbers, of our decimal place value system, of our numerals, is certainly an interesting topic! After all, we take for granted that we write numbers the way we do today—most of us learned Roman numerals as kids and quickly realize they are clunky and formidable as we try to write the year we were born (although anyone born after 2000 has a much easier time of it now!). But Amir Aczel…

  2. Book cover for x + y

    x + y: A Mathematician's Manifesto for Rethinking Gender

    by Eugenia Cheng

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    At first I admit to some scepticism about the idea that we could use mathematics to rethink our conversations around gender. I was apprehensive because science, and even to some extent mathematics (or at least more applied subsets of its, like statistics) have been misused and abused in service of gender stereotype fallacies. Indeed, Eugenia Cheng points this out herself, and this, along with her careful and patient exposition of her topic, eventually won me…

  3. Book cover for The Math(s) Fix

    The Math(s) Fix: An Education Blueprint for the AI Age

    by Conrad Wolfram

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    The Math(s) Fix wants you to believe that computers are coming for your math.

    Scary, isn’t it? You should find it scary. Computers are way better at calculating than we are, yet we insist that “real math” means learning how to do long division by hand!

    Wolfram Media kindly provided me an eARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for this review. I was definitely very interested in this.

    Some positionality, because even though…

  4. Book cover for Hello World

    Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms

    by Hannah Fry

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Algorithms are increasingly an important part of our lives, yet even as more of us become aware of this, how much do we actually stop to consider what that means? How much do we stop to consider who is designing these algorithms and how they actually work? And why are we willing to give up so much control to them in the first place? Hello World is a short tour through the various ways in…

  5. Book cover for Weapons of Math Destruction

    Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

    by Cathy O'Neil

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    The profile of the term “Big Data” has risen recently. Yet, like so many buzzwords, people often don’t fully grasp the significance of the term. “Big Data” is more than the nebulous connotation of corporations collecting our information, and perhaps packaging and selling it—although it is that. It is, in fact, about how corporations quantify everything we do, even the information we don’t realize we’re leaking out into the world, and then use that data…

  6. Book cover for Proofiness

    Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception

    by Charles Seife

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    As our society becomes ever-more data-driven, I am increasingly interested in reading books such as Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception. I want to know how numbers, algorithms, data, and mathematics are being used (or abused) to make decisions, mount arguments, and influence the course of civilization. Sound lofty? Good. Charles Seife’s incisive and interesting writing brings this topic to life. With clear, topical examples, he shows us how misunderstanding or misplaced faith…

  7. Book cover for Cryptonomicon

    Cryptonomicon

    by Neal Stephenson

    1 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Look, this isn’t really a novel.

    Huh. Is there an echo in here?

    I was thinking it had been several years since I last read a Neal Stephenson novel, but it turns out to be just under a year. I borrowed Cryptonomicon from a friend’s mother, because it’s truly not on that I’m a mathematician by training yet haven’t read the most mathematical Stephenson work. I put off reading it for a few weeks, because…

  8. Book cover for Our Mathematical Universe

    Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality

    by Max Tegmark

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Who doesn’t like a good controversy in their popular science books? What’s a philosophical theory about the nature of the universe if it doesn’t ruffle some feathers? No one wants to write a book and then have everyone turn around and shrug at you. That doesn’t sell! So it’s not really surprising that Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality is a controversial book by a somewhat controversial physicist. I received…

  9. Book cover for Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension

    Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension

    by Matt Parker

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I first heard about this on Quirks & Quarks from CBC Radio. Then Josie, one of my Canadian friends still teaching in England, was filling me in on how she went to one of Matt Parker’s stand-up events and how awesome it was. When I informed her I had purchased a signed copy of Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension on the Internets, she was suitably envious. Not, however, as envious as…

  10. Book cover for Love and Math

    Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality

    by Edward Frenkel

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I’m disappointed that so many people seem underwhelmed by the autobiographical parts of this book and feel that they are ancillary to Frenkel’s purpose. I disagree: they are, in fact, the heart and soul of Love & Math. Without them, this would be a fairly intense treatise on deep connections between abstract algebra, algebraic geometry, and quantum physics. With them, Frenkel demonstrates how the study of mathematics and a devotion to thought for thought’s

  11. Book cover for How to Solve the Da Vinci Code And 34 Other Really Interesting Uses of Mathematics

    How to Solve the Da Vinci Code And 34 Other Really Interesting Uses of Mathematics

    by Richard Elwes

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Really, it’s my fault that mathematics gets such a bad rap.

    And by me, I mean math teachers in general. And by math teachers, I actually mean the pedagogical paradigm in which most of us are embedded, and the questionable premises of the educational system that encourages such pedagogy. Math anxiety is often caused by general test anxiety, combined with a lingering sensation that there is “one right answer,” as well as a…

  12. Book cover for How Not to Be Wrong

    How Not to Be Wrong: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life

    by Jordan Ellenberg

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I math for a living. I mathed, both amateurly and professionally, at school. I math quite a bit. And as a math teacher, I like reading "pop math" books that try to do for math what many science writers have done for science. So picking up How Not to Be Wrong was a no-brainer when I saw it on that bookstore shelf. I’ve read and enjoyed some of Jordan Ellenberg’s columns on Slate and elsewhere…

  13. Book cover for A Brief Guide to the Great Equations

    A Brief Guide to the Great Equations: The Hunt for Cosmic Beauty in Numbers

    by Robert P. Crease

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    To paraphrase Mr T, I pity the fool who doesn’t see the beauty of mathematics inherent in the world around us. As a teacher, I feel rather complicit at times in robbing children of the joy of mathematics. The systemic, industrial tone of education does not often lend itself well to the investigation and discovery that should be the cornerstone of maths; I find this particularly true in the UK, where standardized tests and levels…

  14. Book cover for A More Perfect Heaven

    A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionised the Cosmos

    by Dava Sobel

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I came across this book while browsing the science section in Waterstones, because that’s where they hide all the good mathematics books as well, and I was looking for an appropriate math book to give to a fellow math friend for her birthday. (I opted for Ian Stewart’s Hoard of Mathematical Treasures.) Having read Dava Sobel’s explication of John Harrison and the marine chronometer in Longitude, I snapped this up without a second…

  15. Book cover for Thinking in Numbers

    Thinking in Numbers

    by Daniel Tammet

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I can’t resist picking up mathy books when I’m in a bookstore. As a mathematician, I love broadening my knowledge about the field—and seeing what passes for “popular mathematics” these days. Thinking in Numbers is a slim volume that promises to “change the way you think about maths and fire your imagination to see the world with fresh eyes”. It didn’t do that for me—but maybe that’s because I already think about maths that way.…

  16. Book cover for Our Days Are Numbered

    Our Days Are Numbered: How Mathematics Orders Our Lives

    by Jason Brown

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I read math books for fun. I realize that, right away, this puts me in an unusual portion of the population. It’s not just my fancy math degree that makes these books attractive. However, I do think that there are some math books written for people interested in math (whether professionally or amateurly), and then there are math books written for people who, usually thanks to a bad experience in school, have sworn off math…

  17. Book cover for A Strange Wilderness

    A Strange Wilderness: The Lives of the Great Mathematicians

    by Amir D. Aczel

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Part of my goal as a teacher is to expose my students to the wider world of mathematics, to impress upon them that math is more than just skills and concepts they learn out of a textbook in the fulfilment of curriculum expectations. I want to make the usefulness and purpose of all that math explicit—and I want to go even further and show that math can be beautiful. Finally, it’s important to provide a…

  18. Book cover for Napier's Bones

    Napier's Bones

    by Derryl Murphy

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Do you ever feel like you have let down a book, not the other way around? That if you had been smarter, funnier, prettier, then the book wouldn’t have broken up with you by text message and started dating your friend, who really isn’t all that much prettier than you and has terrible taste in clothing and music and restaurants anyway? No? Just me? OK. I kind of feel that way about Napier’s Bones.

  19. Book cover for A Brief History of Infinity

    A Brief History of Infinity

    by Brian Clegg

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    My two teachables, the subjects which I will be qualified to teach when I graduate from my education program in May, are mathematics and English. When I tell people this, they usually express surprise, saying something like, “Well, aren’t those very different subjects!”

    And it irks me so.

    They’re not, not really. Firstly, mathematics and English are both forms of communication. Both rely on the manipulation of symbols to tell a tale. As with writers…

  20. Book cover for One to Nine

    One to Nine: The Inner Life of Numbers

    by Andrew Hodges

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    This is perhaps the first time I have condemned a book for its concept but applauded it for its content. Writing a book that examines the integers 1 to 9 on a per-chapter basis is just silly. It's also impossible; the properties of these numbers are inextricably bound up in the properties of all other numbers. Andrew Hodges knows this, and indeed makes no attempt to conceal the fact that the structure of this book…

  21. Book cover for The Illustrated A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell

    The Illustrated A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell

    by Stephen Hawking

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Welcome to our universe. We only get one (regardless of however many there are). The search for a more complete understanding of our universe, out into the macroscopic and deep into the quantum foam, is a search for an understanding of who we are, why we're here … and where we might end up. This is a book of sublime thought that takes the ivory tower and turns it into an ivory ladder that anyone,…

  22. Book cover for Zero

    Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

    by Charles Seife

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    My grade 11 math teacher gave this to me, and I remember reading it and loving it. Here I am, three years later, returning to Zero for a second read. No longer the gullible high school student (now a gullible university student!), I'm apt to be more critical of Zero. Nevertheless, it stands up to a second reading and both inspires and informs.

    Imagining a world without zero is probably difficult for most people.…

  23. Book cover for The Housekeeper and the Professor

    The Housekeeper and the Professor

    by Yōko Ogawa

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    After a somewhat bumpy relationship with literary fiction for the past few weeks, The Housekeeper and the Professor delivers an enjoyable experience that reassures me some literary fiction is sublime. Full disclosure: I am studying mathematics, so I do find the subject matter in this book fascinating. I understand that less mathematically-inclined readers might not, but I don't see that as an excuse for enjoying this book any less. The Housekeeper and the Professor isn't…

  24. Book cover for The Last Theorem

    The Last Theorem

    by Arthur C. Clarke

    1 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Overall, the word I'd use to describe this book is "shallow." Clarke and Pohl, two big names in SF, have managed to take two interesting concepts (Fermat's Last Theorem and alien sterilization of Earth) and turn them into a boring book. It's as if they said one day, "Well, we've succeeded at everything else in literature; now we have to succeed at writing a bad book!"

    My major problem with the book is the lack…

  25. Book cover for The Numerati

    The Numerati

    by Stephen Baker

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I agree with those reviewers who found this book somewhat less awesome than they initially anticipated. Coming from a math background, and as surrounded by technology as I am, I think that the book would have had more of an impact with me if I knew less about these issues already. And that's why I'm giving it such a high rating: it does a good job educating, and I like that in a book.

    Stephen…