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Alex's Adventures in Numberland: Dispatches from the Wonderful World of Mathematics

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Which would provide a great segue to the book's discussion of infinity if it weren't for intervening chapters on: (1) mathematical puzzles/games-Sudoku, the Rubik's Cube; (2) number sequences--the most fascinating anecdote being the development and applications of The On-Line Encyclopaedia of Integer Sequences, a kind of numerical genome; and (3) the concepts of phi and "the golden ratio" and their relationship to Fibonacci sequences. I now know that the maths of the shape of the fifty pence coin is much less interesting than I might have imagined, also that gambling is a mugs game - think I knew that from playing penny up at school or cards with my card counting father, and that the variability of weight of loaves of bread may be affected by sample variance and local factors as much as by the baker making smaller loaves. As the book progresses, so does the abstract nature of the subject matter, and the concept of pi provides the perfect bridge between numeracy and philosophy, which had already emerged with the chapter on zero.

It also reminded me of the debates I would have as a portfolio analyst with my quant boss about over-reliance on statistical models to predict the fortunes of industry segments. While I was reading this book , I noticed it was published by Bloomsbury and I remembered that a few years ago they were doing rather poorly until J. Bellos's promised excursion begins with the invention of zero, a number so basic to all calculations that it is easy to forget that it needed to be invented.

The slide rule exposed my lack of dexterity, which I blame for a lifelong preference for the directionally correct over pinpoint accuracy. In India he finds the brilliant mathematical insights of the Buddha and in Japan he visits the creator of Sudoku and explores the delights of mathematical games.

All the people in this book have been treated as creative artists and their work has been explored with childlike wonder. It is to be hoped that the uncountable delights of Bellos’s book, its verve and feeling for mathematics, convey its enchantments to a new generation - Times Literary Supplement You may also be interested in.Strings of data are dull, you might think, percentages and sums best left to calculators (or, these days, Google). I did struggle with some of the ideas but very often when I asked my husband to explain I found that the author explained the whole thing in the following paragraph. In this richly entertaining and accessible book, Alex Bellos explodes the myth that maths is best left to the geeks, and demonstrates the remarkable ways it's linked to our everyday lives.

The discussion of the Hilbert Hotel, Cantor and infinity was very difficult to grasp but I imagine I am not the only one. They have studied the properties and patterns in numbers, straight lines, curves, surfaces, cubes and hypercubes, all in a bid to understand how these things fit together and what those details might reveal about the deeper logic of mathematics. What ensues is both a historical tour and spontaneous encounters with some of the most eccentric people currently operating on the fringes of mathematics. Registered office address: Unit 34 Vulcan House Business Centre, Vulcan Road, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE5 3EF. The title is enough however, to put off my non-mathsy girlfriend, who accused me of being a "geek" for reading it.He makes a frank observation that should give pause to any reader: “By age 16, schoolkids have learned almost no math beyond what was already known in the mid-seventeenth century, and likewise by the time they are 18, they have not gone beyond the mid-eighteenth century. He used a mnemonic technique, assigning syllables to each number from 0 to 9 and then translating pi's decimals into words, which in turn formed sentences. Well, as amply demonstrated by Bellos, everything that is ever done in mathematics, be it silly games or idle curiosity, everything has been put to some use and had contributed to the progress of humanity.

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