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Description de l’éditeur
The year's finest writing on mathematics from around the world
This annual anthology brings together the year's finest mathematics writing from around the world. Featuring promising new voices alongside some of the foremost names in the field, The Best Writing on Mathematics 2014 makes available to a wide audience many articles not easily found anywhere else—and you don’t need to be a mathematician to enjoy them. These writings offer surprising insights into the nature, meaning, and practice of mathematics today. They delve into the history, philosophy, teaching, and everyday occurrences of math, and take readers behind the scenes of today’s hottest mathematical debates. Here John Conway presents examples of arithmetical statements that are almost certainly true but likely unprovable; Carlo Séquin explores, compares, and illustrates distinct types of one-sided surfaces known as Klein bottles; Keith Devlin asks what makes a video game good for learning mathematics and shows why many games fall short of that goal; Jordan Ellenberg reports on a recent breakthrough in the study of prime numbers; Stephen Pollard argues that mathematical practice, thinking, and experience transcend the utilitarian value of mathematics; and much, much more.
In addition to presenting the year’s most memorable writings on mathematics, this must-have anthology includes an introduction by editor Mircea Pitici. This book belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in where math has taken us—and where it is headed.
Pitici, who teaches math and writing at Cornell University edits his fifth consecutive edition of the year's best writing in mathematics, opening with a tone-setting essay that convincingly argues, via the philosophy of John Dewey, that mathematics, like art, is intrinsically a valuable human endeavor. The following essays cover a broad swath of mathematics that include entertaining puzzles, complicated proofs, pedagogical philosophy, and technical discussions of mathematical problems. The pedagogical entries are both serious and light: one discusses using food to demonstrate concepts from pre-calculus to calculus and beyond, while another, on the concept of "grace" as an element of teaching, is quite moving. For readers interested in rigorous mathematics there are plenty of challenges. One piece begins "A Klein Bottle is a closed single-sided mathematical service of the genus 2," and then explores the concept for 20 pages. There are several timely articles on big data what it is, the surprising ways it can be used, its role in designing language translation programs, and how it might be abused. Many of the technical articles are difficult and demand a mathematical background, other entries are well suited for readers more casual readers; the volume is intended to capture both audiences and does it well.