Award-winning Steven Strogatz, one of the foremost popularisers of maths, has written a witty and fascinating account of maths' most compelling ideas and how, so often, they are an integral part of everyday life.
Maths is everywhere, often where we don't even realise. Award-winning professor Steven Strogatz acts as our guide as he takes us on a tour of numbers that - unbeknownst to the unitiated - connect pop culture, literature, art, philosophy, current affairs, business and even every day life. In The Joy of X, Strogatz explains the great ideas of maths - from negative numbers to calculus, fat tails to infinity - with clarity, wit and insight. He is the maths teacher you never had and this book is perfect for the smart and curious, the expert and the beginner.
Even the most math-phobic readers might forget their dread after just a few pages of Strogatz's (The Calculus of Friendship) latest. The author, a Cornell professor of applied mathematics, begins with arithmetic, by way of Sesame Street, then explores algebra, geometry, and, finally, the wonders of calculus all done cheerfully, with many a wry turn of phrase. From addition and subtraction, with a glimpse into negative numbers and "the black art of borrowing," it's a quick step into the hardcore detective work of algebra's search for the unknown x, with algorithms like the quadratic equation, "the Rodney Dangerfield of algebra" ("it don't get no respect"). Strogatz rhapsodizes over geometry, which he sees as a marriage of logic and intuition that teaches how to build arguments, step by rigorous step, and geometry's "loosey-goosey" offshoot, topology. Brisk chapters on prime numbers, basic statistics, and probability are all enlightening without being intimidating. Most impressive is Strogatz's coverage of calculus, the math used to figure out everything from how fast epidemics spread to the trajectory of a curveball. Readers will appreciate this lighthearted and thoroughly entertaining book. Illus.