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# A History of Pi

HARDCOVER with Dust Jacket - published by Barnes and Noble.

Hardcover, 202 pages

Published
March 21st 2007
by Marboro Books
(first published January 1st 1970)

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## Community Reviews

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What the world needs now are more opinionated and bellicose mathematicians, and I’m itching to pumme ...more

Oct 11, 2008
Chad Bearden
rated it
3 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
popular-science

The fact that it was written in 1971 adds a little bit of out-of-date flavor that makes "A History of Pi" a lot more amusing than it otherwise might have been.

As a history of pi, it kind of doesn't really work for a couple of reasons. First of all, its not really a history of pi. Its more like a history of mathematics in general. But even there, its far too anecdotal to serve as any real history lesson. Beckmann jumps and skips from one era to another giving you the lowdown on a random sampling ...more

As a history of pi, it kind of doesn't really work for a couple of reasons. First of all, its not really a history of pi. Its more like a history of mathematics in general. But even there, its far too anecdotal to serve as any real history lesson. Beckmann jumps and skips from one era to another giving you the lowdown on a random sampling ...more

However, when the first few examples he gives of how the ancients found their values for pi are rendered into oh-so-simple differential calc ...more

I stumbled across it in the process of looking for Beckmann's monograph "The Scattering of Electromagnetic Waves from Rough Surfaces" for some E/M research I was involved with. It's a great treatise, but that's beside the point. Next to it on the shelf was "A History of Pi."

Pi itself is an interesting subject, but Beckmann is only hijacking the fundamental constant to tell the broader story of the history of mathematics. Each milestone, ea ...more

...moreIn 1486, Torquemada sentenced the Spanish mathematician Valmes to be burned at the stake because Valmes had claimed to have found the solution of the quartic equation. It was the will of God, maintained the Grand Inquisitor of the Holy Office of the Inquisit

Nov 25, 2012
Stuart Macmartin
rated it
3 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
read-in-2012,
non-fiction

A lot of good information, some fun facts and something about various mathematicians. I agree with many reviewers' comments about his rants - sometimes I wondered if the point of the book was to be a soapbox for railing against any kind of oppression, especially against science. These asides were sometimes fun but got in the way of the history, and his broad simplistic characterizations of some societies didn't help his credibility. His last chapter was a bit naive even for the time, IMO.

I did f ...more

I did f ...more

"'I thought it fit to write out for you and explain in detail in the same book the peculiarity of a certain method, by which it will be possible for you to investigate some of the problems in mathematics by means of mechanics. This procedure is, I am persuaded, no less useful even for the proofs of the theorems themselves; for certain things first became clear to me by a mechani ...more

While Beckman may know his mathematics and the story of pi, he lacks many other qualities necessary to write historical books. The writing is full of factual errors and problematic generalizations about non-mathematical things, as well as obnoxious and belittling attitude towards ancient cultures, their achivements and views of the world. A history books should not include off-hand remarks on how many historical mathematical documents arabs wiped their bottoms wi ...more

Mar 27, 2008
James Lundy
rated it
3 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
nerds, math fans, history buffs, people who study numerology

The history of math and science (and therefore scientific thought, and therefore mankind) is a fascinating field. I was exposed to it in high school by a Jesuit priest who was a fanatic about it. I think I remember more about the history of science than I do about science. Anyway, this is a good read, maybe lasts a little longer than your interest in Pi does but I think it walks the middle road between too simplified and too scholarly. If you don't read the book remember this: if you have a calc
...more

Jul 23, 2010
Kirttimukha TheCat
rated it
3 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
2010-read

Really interesting historical discussion of the development of Pi and it's continuing refinement. The author is quite opinionated, but in that gives a new and interesting perspective on history. He is critical of the pax romana for example, because it is a peace achieved by conquering those who would normally fight each other. My favorite chapter is about Pi in the computer age. The book was published in 1970 and the description of a device that is cutting edge technology and roams the physics l
...more

Feb 06, 2015
Jacob Lines
rated it
4 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
science-and-nature-and-other-stuff

Beckmann starts this book by explaining that he is qualified to write the history of pi because he is neither a historian nor a mathematician. He isn't just making a joke. Instead of giving a historian's impartial account, or a mathematician's proofs, he gives us an opinionated rollicking account of how humans have figured out and used that magical number of pi. His amusing asides about politics (he escaped from communist eastern Europe) are worth the read alone. If you have a layperson's intere
...more

This book is not boring. If you are willing to open your eyes to the beauty of mathematics then exploring the number Pi will astound you with humanity's desire to understand this significant and, equally, in ...more

I couldn't say there is much to be taken away from

*A History of Pi*though. It's engaging and well-composed, but not very thought-provoking absent any real controversy or plot direction. It's just ...more

Oct 24, 2008
ajp3
rated it
5 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
everyone

Recommended to ajp3 by:
me

great book. read if you're interested in the historical account of the circle ratio, and the thinkers who went digit hunting long before we had calculators with pi programmed to twenty something digits into them. this is not a math book - there is no math in it - but you might find yourself interested in mathematics after reading it. it's short and the writing style is alive with hate for the establishment and passion for free thought.

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