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The Freakonomics of math—a math-world superstar unveils the hidden beauty and logic of the world and puts its power in our hands The math we learn in school can seem like a dull set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In How Not to Be Wrong, Jordan Ellenberg shows us how terribly limiting this view is: Math isn’t confined to abstract incidents that never occur in real life, but rather touches everything we do—the whole world is shot through with it. Math allows us to see the hidden structures underneath the messy and chaotic surface of our world. It’s a science of not being wrong, hammered out by centuries of hard work and argument. Armed with the tools of mathematics, we can see through to the true meaning of information we take for granted: How early should you get to the airport? What does “public opinion” really represent? Why do tall parents have shorter children? Who really won Florida in 2000? And how likely are you, really, to develop cancer? How Not to Be Wrong presents the surprising revelations behind all of these questions and many more, using the mathematician’s method of analyzing life and exposing the hard-won insights of the academic community to the layman—minus the jargon. Ellenberg chases mathematical threads through a vast range of time and space, from the everyday to the cosmic, encountering, among other things, baseball, Reaganomics, daring lottery schemes, Voltaire, the replicability crisis in psychology, Italian Renaissance painting, artificial languages, the development of non-Euclidean geometry, the coming obesity apocalypse, Antonin Scalia’s views on crime and punishment, the psychology of slime molds, what Facebook can and can’t figure out about you, and the existence of God. Ellenberg pulls from history as well as from the latest theoretical developments to provide those not trained in math with the knowledge they need. Math, as Ellenberg says, is “an atomic-powered prosthesis that you attach to your common sense, vastly multiplying its reach and strength.” With the tools of mathematics in hand, you can understand the world in a deeper, more meaningful way. How Not to Be Wrong will show you how.
"Using the mathematician's method of analyzing life and exposing the hard-won insights of the academic community to the layman, minus the jargon ... Ellenberg pulls from history as well as from the latest theoretical developments to provide those not trained in math with the knowledge they need"--
The columnist for Slate's popular "Do the Math" celebrates the logical, illuminating nature of math in today's world, sharing in accessible language mathematical approaches that demystify complex and everyday problems.
In the twenty-first century, everyone can benefit from being able to think mathematically. This is not the same as "doing math." The latter usually involves the application of formulas, procedures, and symbolic manipulations; mathematical thinking is a powerful way of thinking about things in the world -- logically, analytically, quantitatively, and with precision. It is not a natural way of thinking, but it can be learned.Mathematicians, scientists, and engineers need to "do math," and it takes many years of college-level education to learn all that is required. Mathematical thinking is valuable to everyone, and can be mastered in about six weeks by anyone who has completed high school mathematics. Mathematical thinking does not have to be about mathematics at all, but parts of mathematics provide the ideal target domain to learn how to think that way, and that is the approach taken by this short but valuable book.The book is written primarily for first and second year students of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at colleges and universities, and for high school students intending to study a STEM subject at university. Many students encounter difficulty going from high school math to college-level mathematics. Even if they did well at math in school, most are knocked off course for a while by the shift in emphasis, from the K-12 focus on mastering procedures to the "mathematical thinking" characteristic of much university mathematics. Though the majority survive the transition, many do not. To help them make the shift, colleges and universities often have a "transition course." This book could serve as a textbook or a supplementary source for such a course.Because of the widespread applicability of mathematical thinking, however, the book has been kept short and written in an engaging style, to make it accessible to anyone who seeks to extend and improve their analytic thinking skills. Going beyond a basic grasp of analytic thinking that everyone can benefit from, the STEM student who truly masters mathematical thinking will find that college-level mathematics goes from being confusing, frustrating, and at times seemingly impossible, to making sense and being hard but doable.Dr. Keith Devlin is a professional mathematician at Stanford University and the author of 31 previous books and over 80 research papers. His books have earned him many awards, including the Pythagoras Prize, the Carl Sagan Award, and the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics Communications Award. He is known to millions of NPR listeners as "the Math Guy" on Weekend Edition with Scott Simon. He writes a popular monthly blog "Devlin's Angle" for the Mathematical Association of America, another blog under the name "profkeithdevlin", and also blogs on various topics for the Huffington Post.
Sixteen columns from the French edition of Scientific American feature oddball characters and wacky wordplay in a mathematical wonderland of puzzles and games that also imparts significant mathematical ideas. 1992 edition.
Have you ever played the addictive card game SET? Have you ever wondered about the connections between games and mathematics? If the answer to either question is "yes," then The Joy of SET is the book for you! The Joy of SET takes readers on a fascinating journey into this seemingly simple card game and reveals its surprisingly deep and diverse mathematical dimensions. Absolutely no mathematical background is necessary to enjoy this book—all you need is a sense of curiosity and adventure! Originally invented in 1974 by Marsha Falco and officially released in 1991, SET has gained a widespread, loyal following. SET's eighty-one cards consist of one, two, or three symbols of different shapes (diamond, oval, squiggle), shadings (solid, striped, open), and colors (green, purple, red). In order to win, players must identify “sets” of three cards for which each characteristic is the same—or different—on all the cards. SET’s strategic and unique design opens connections to a plethora of mathematical disciplines, including geometry, modular arithmetic, combinatorics, probability, linear algebra, and computer simulations. The Joy of SET looks at these areas as well as avenues for further mathematical exploration. As the authors show, the relationship between SET and mathematics runs in both directions—playing this game has generated new mathematics, and the math has led to new questions about the game itself. The first book devoted to the mathematics of one of today’s most popular card games, The Joy of SET will entertain and enlighten the game enthusiast in all of us.
Forget everything you’ve been taught about math. In Burn Math Class, Jason Wilkes takes the traditional approach to mathematics education—with its unwelcoming textbooks, unexplained rules, and authoritarian assertions—and sets it on fire. Focusing on how mathematics is created rather than on mathematical facts, Wilkes teaches the subject in a way that requires no memorization and no prior knowledge beyond addition and multiplication. From these simple foundations, Burn Math Class shows how mathematics can be (re)invented from scratch without preexisting textbooks and courses. We can discover math on our own through experimentation and failure, without appealing to any outside authority. When math is created free from arcane notations and pretentious jargon that hide the simplicity of mathematical concepts, it can be understood organically—and it becomes fun! Following this unconventional approach, Burn Math Class leads the reader from the basics of elementary arithmetic to various “advanced” topics, such as time-dilation in special relativity, Taylor series, and calculus in infinite-dimensional spaces. Along the way, Wilkes argues that orthodox mathematics education has been teaching the subject backward: calculus belongs before many of its so-called prerequisites, and those prerequisites cannot be fully understood without calculus. Like the smartest, craziest teacher you’ve ever had, Wilkes guides you on an adventure in mathematical creation that will radically change the way you think about math. Revealing the beauty and simplicity of this timeless subject, Burn Math Class turns everything that seems difficult about mathematics upside down and sideways until you understand just how easy math can be.

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