The Magic of Math: Solving for X and Figuring Out Why

Arthur Benjamin. Basic, $26.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-465-05472-5
Pizza and poker hands, ice cream and “immortal” rabbits—these items aren’t typically to be found in math books, but Benjamin (The Secrets of Mental Math), professor of mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, welcomes them all with open arms in this positively joyful exploration of mathematics. His approach is simple and refreshingly practical. A look at number patterns introduces tricks for carrying out “fast mental calculations”; a chapter on the properties of the number nine reveals methods for easily calculating calendar dates. Without ever using the word “statistics,” Benjamin deftly covers the basics of calculating the odds of having a winning lottery ticket or poker hand. Whether figuring out compound interest, using trigonometry to determine the height of a tree, or employing calculus to work out a shortest possible walking route, each topic is presented in the clearest, simplest way possible. There’s even room for explorations of more abstract concepts such as pi, imaginary numbers, and infinity. Benjamin’s accessible book expands on video lectures on “The Joy of Mathematics” that were created for the Great Courses series, and its energy and enthusiasm should charm even the most math-phobic readers. Agent: Karen Gantz, Karen Gantz Literary Management. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/22/2015
Release date: 09/08/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-465-09874-3
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-465-09621-3
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