Friday, April 6, 2012

Some Neat Lines, A Lot of Fluff

I actually finished this one almost a week ago, but what with my little dash off to San Fran I didn't get around to reviewing it till now... when it seems most imperative that I do so since I'm heading into Pesach and possibly more reading time.  Anyway, after finishing up a long-neglected GH, I still didn't have any books on my agenda (and still don't have many, since I've been lazy about reserving) so I picked up a rather random title.  A few months ago, I mentioned that a "popular math" book I saw around Dov's parents' house looked interesting - Math Mysteries I think it's called or something like that, by Marcus de Satoy (again, or something like that).   I've read a few books of this type - history of math, basic introductions to its areas of study - and they're entertaining enough.  So my sweet Dov brought the book home for me, rather unexpectedly.  It seemed incumbent upon me to read it once I got around to it.

It turned out to be fairly interesting, and definitely an easy read.  I don't think any of the actual math was new - a lot of it was very similar to the math section of 1,2,3....Infinite and the remainder was mostly my CMSC 203 class - discrete math.  But it was a nice reminder I guess.  What I found a little annoying was the juvenility of some of the examples - the book is peppered with games that "illustrate" the concepts being explained.  But maybe it's aimed at a juvenile audience, I don't know.  It just seemed like a little too much filler.  And on the other hand, some of the most interesting math was glossed over, so that I found myself wishing he explained A->B in a little more detail.  But there was good too - I think what I found strongest were his examples of math in nature - especially the prime number cicadas and the three-colored lizards.  What a world we live in, huh?

I guess it's not his fault that this isn't my first math book.  I would have gotten more out of it if I didn't already know most of the stuff.  But I'm glad it's not my first, because I think those other ones did a better job explaining the concepts than he did.  Overall, it wasn't hard to read though, and it was a nice refresher.  Not too taxing on the brain, and good reminder of the neatness of mathematics.

Verdict: 2.75/5

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