Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity” as Want to Read:
The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  2,809 Ratings  ·  414 Reviews
A world-class mathematician and regular contributor to the "New York Times" hosts a delightful tour of the greatest ideas of math, revealing how it connects to literature, philosophy, law, medicine, art, business, even pop culture in ways we never imagined
Did O.J. do it? How should you flip your mattress to get the maximum wear out of it? How does Google search the Intern
ebook, 336 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Joy of X, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Joy of X

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Eustacia Tan
Aug 11, 2012 Eustacia Tan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I will be the first to admit that I'm not good at math. Despite taking Higher Maths in IB (I just practiced so many times that I somehow knew how to solve the question), I still didn't understand a lot of concepts. And despite all the quotes about how math was beautiful in my textbooks, I still just don't get it. And I suspect that this problem isn't unique to me a lone. So, I was really intrigued by the promise of this book to be a guided (and fun) tour of math.

The Joy of X, unlike what the nam
Nov 16, 2012 Stuart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Are you the type of person who spent hours on the bus on the way to school working out multiplication tables for prime numbers only? When you're having sex do you find that the earth may not move, but images of numbers and mathematical symbols appear in your head when things are going great? OK, I'm getting a little too personal here, but if you're a numbers geek, you'll love this book.

Steven Strogatz writes in a very chatty, entertaining style about the nature of mathematics, from number theory
Mar 03, 2016 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2016
You wouldn’t know it, but maths permeates everything we do and touch. Your smartphone would not be able to operate without maths, nor would the internet. You couldn’t buy anything risk free if we didn’t have the primes. Things as unlikely as the correct time to flip a mattress, the number of people to date before settling down, the best path from A to B, that if you look hard enough you can see sine waves everywhere all have some element of maths in them.

He does manage to take a subject that ma
Jan 09, 2013 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could have read this book during that hell year of first year university, when I barely passed calculus despite devoting more time to studying it then the other 4 subjects combined (or maybe it just seemed like that -- very long nights in the library, writing out reams of papers of formulae, the table strewn with my hair and tears).
Now sufficient time has passed and, like childbirth, I forget the pain and remember only those good moments, the eureka! ones.
This isn't a book for geeks and
Oct 02, 2012 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Struggling through several years of higher math in engineering school in the 1960s didn't engender a love of mathematics in me. It wasn't until years later that I began to value the beauty and elegance of mathematics. A big part of my appreciation came from mathematicians like Steven Strogatz who wrote about math for readers who appreciated the concepts but had no desire to wade into a morass of complex equations.

In The Joy of x, Strogatz has done a masterful job as our tour guide through the el
Misericordia ❣
... clue to the ubiquity of e. It ofthen arises when something changes through the cumulative effect of many tiny events.
Mar 13, 2014 Sergei_kalinin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for_soul
Всегда белой завистью завидовал тем, кто на "ты" с математикой. Мне "царица наук" всегда давалась очень трудно, требуя больших затрат энергии и выдающихся усилий моска)))

Я прошёл долгий путь от слабеньких "троечек" по алгебре в старших классах до преподавания методов мат.статистики в ВУЗе. Но путь этот давался мне "потом и кровью": весь дом был постоянно завален какими-то продвинутыми пособиями по математике; за свою жизнь я закончил примерно с десяток (кроме учебных предметов в школе и ВУЗе) м
Wayne McCoy
Sep 07, 2012 Wayne McCoy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A wonderful book of short essays displaying the elegance of math in a grand and easily digestible format. This book started life as a series of columns in the New York Times as an introduction to and has been expanded on a bit. Each chapter is the length of a typical column, and while the book is by no means comprehensive, there are copious notes and reading lists in the back should one want to explore topics further.

The book starts with basics like numbers and addition and continues right on to
Sep 26, 2012 Johnathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-read
I know what "i" (make that italics) does to something in a practical manner now!!!! Took me twenty-eight years to make it 30 minutes into a book that explained it to me.. but.. I KNOW!! Wooohooooo

Really, I loved reading this book, it was a super fun journey. Now, I'm going to sit down and make a mobius strip with my five-year old daughter!!

(Won this off of Goodreads first reads btw. Going to purchase two more copies for Christmas presents. So fun!)
Oct 16, 2014 Angela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. My only regret is that I couldn't read it in high school, when I was *actually* struggling with math. At this point (having degrees & math & math education & have spent over a decade teaching the subject and/or teachers of it), I read it more from the point of view of, "How could I use pieces of this with students and/or the teachers that I work with?"

In these 30 short essays--a couple of which I had read before in his Time column--Strogatz begins at the beginning (

David Dinaburg
Rare is the occasion to have math thrown at your brain in a direct and pedagogical manner after, say, college calculus. The Joy of X is math made quick and fun, replete with dad jokes, groaners that make an appearance at the close of each chapter. Typically, they reference a social touchstone that is out of date or just sort of lame. After a certain point, though, their earnestness infected my mind and I began to unironically enjoy them, even attempting to anticipate when, where, and in what for ...more
Oct 29, 2012 Mikell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I applaud you, Stephen Strogatz, for truly putting the joy back in math! My life might have been very different if I had read this book in high school. Biology was my passion, but I avoided the field because of the math courses required for a bachelor of science degree.
My father was a calculus professor and he made math interesting and approachable. He died when I was 13 and afterwards numbers became a challenge because my teachers never explained them with flair and passion. My dad said, "If yo
Apr 12, 2014 Phil rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Pretty dull. The book's structure parallel's that of a standard math education, and offers little added value. I wanted a greater appreciation of math's beauty, instead I god a folksy re-hash over concepts I was generally aware of, and competent and applying (the exceptions being topology, group theory, the hilbert hotel, and a few other odds and ends).

In the end, it wasn't worth my time.

Disclaimer: I have a math minor, so I know only enough math to be marginally dangerous.

Zena Ryder
This book is about math, but it doesn't have much math in it. So mostly it's pretty easy to read. It must have been very difficult to write about some complex math ideas for non-mathematicians! For the most part, Strogatz does a good job. There were, however, a few parts where I confess I couldn't be bothered to think hard enough to get through the little bit of math there was and I just skimmed those parts. ;) Other times, I felt that Strogatz lingered too long over an easy point. It's probably ...more
Suneel Madhekar
Jul 12, 2016 Suneel Madhekar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in math. Anyone not interested in math!
This is a delightful little book on mathematics. One of those rare, wonderful, popular math books. It was actually a gift for my nephew who started his engineering studies. After he was through reading it, I thought I'll give it a try myself! And the book was absolutely worth reading. Strogatz, whom I knew as a pioneer in nonlinear dynamics, chaos and synchronisation, has done a wonderful job of getting people interested in mathematics. The book touches upon some of the most important concepts o ...more
José Luís  Fernandes
In this book Steven Strogatz makes a brief tour of many areas of mathematics. He starts that tour with the concept of natural numbers and approaches many subjects like arithmetics, geometry, trigonometry, algebra, calculus, statistics and so many other subjects in a simple but highly effective way. He didn't want a fat and huge book about maths or calculus for example and instead he preferred to make a simpler book destined to everyone where he makes an introduction to mathematics and explains ...more
Aug 30, 2014 Book rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mathematics
The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity by Steven Strogatz

"The Joy of X" is an entertaining introductory guide through the elements of math, from the very basic to the infinity. Professor of Applied Mathematics at Cornell University, Steven Strogatz takes the reader on an amusing ride through some of the more interesting stories behind math concepts. This enjoyable and informative 336-page book is comprised of thirty chapters broken out by the six following main parts: 1. Numbe
Oct 22, 2012 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
THE JOY OF x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity. (2012). Steven Strogatz. ***.
This book is an expanded version of a series of columns the author wrote for The New York Times in 2010 covering essentially the same topics. He goes from simple arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), through algebra, geometry, trigonometry, integral and differential calculus, to advanced topics in mathematics. What he tries to do is explain the principles behind the operations in e
Bryan Higgs
Nov 01, 2014 Bryan Higgs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mathematics
This is a charming book that attempts to provide an understanding of Mathematics for pretty much anyone.
As one who has a strong background in Mathematics, I found it an easy read. I found it to be quite interesting, despite my already knowing quite a bit about the topics being covered. The writing style is light, engaging, even charming, and includes a lot of items that relate the Mathematics to the real world (something I find too many Mathematics courses seldom do)

Of course, as someone with a
Rafal Jasinski
Jeśli nigdy nie lubiliście matematyki a rozwiązywanie czegokolwiek więcej niż najprostsze z zadań przyprawiało Was o ból głowy, to książka ta... niewiele w Waszym podejściu do tego przedmiotu zmieni. Trudno odmówić autorowi tego, że próbuje w sposób możliwie interesujący i obrazowy wyłożyć o co chodzi z wszystkimi tymi całkami, rachunkiem różniczkowym i innymi rzeczami, które w okresie szkolnym sprawiały, że człowiek budził się spocony w środku nocy, ale prędzej czy później wszystkie jego staran ...more
Jan 04, 2015 Irio rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Comecei o ano bem.

É um livro pra dar de presente a qualquer um que diga que acha Matemática difícil ou que não entende. Ele assume que tu não sabe nem o que é o assunto e conta a utilidade de várias subáreas, ensinando o básico e gerando curiosidade. Muitos dos conceitos que tive que aprender fazendo centenas de exercícios e quebrando a cabeça são explicados de formas extremamente didáticas.
Sep 24, 2012 Madonna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Advance Reading Copy was free to me from GoodReads. This was a lot of fun to read; but I did not find that it taught me much about math. It did make some of the things I wonder about a little clearer. I just don't get math! Sorry!

Thanks for letting me read this one.
Jun 04, 2016 Fellini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Название не врёт - действительно, удовольствие.
От счёта рыбок до бесконечности, умноженной на бесконечность, ведётся повествование о различных областях математики.
В школе этот предмет был мне очень интересен, но до определённого момента. Когда начались логарифмы, первообразные и производные - все эти неосязаемые штуки, я перестала получать от математики удовольствие и сосредоточилась на умении решать уравнения и задачки (в конце 11 класса был обязательный ЕГЭ). С этой книгой получилось так же:
Artem Fedorov
Nov 09, 2015 Artem Fedorov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book, which describes mathematic in simple words.
If I have read this book at school, my life would be a lot easier and I would not have to spend hours memorizing various mathematical theorems. Steven Strogatz explains difficult concepts (as Gaussian function, differential calculus, limits, etc.) in simple and understandable language. With this book you can see the physical meaning of math concepts, their application in real life, because math is everywhere around us. Mathematics permeates e
Syed Ashrafulla
Jan 01, 2015 Syed Ashrafulla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This is one of the few books that describes the abstractness of math concepts in an actually-accessible way. The descriptions of infinity and topology are perfect in their deconstruction of mathematical concepts to what they really are. Is math complicated? Yes. Are its core concepts difficult to understand? NO.

One of the more frustrating things I feel from the math side is when people say that proofs are too complicated. Usually they are only as complicated as the proof writer's style. If the w
Sergey Khomyuk
Oct 06, 2014 Sergey Khomyuk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Не знаю, как вы, а я в школьные годы получал огромное удовольствие от общения с x и y. Потом, во время учебы в универе, мои чувства к ним приостыли, но все же не погасли совсем. Так что, когда я увидел рецензию Гайдара ( ) на книгу Стивена Строгаца "Удовольствие {от} X" - я тут же проникся ностальгией и добавил эту книгу в свой список.

Автор книги поставил перед собой непростую цель - изложить основные концепции мира математики в занимательной и доступной для вс
Oct 29, 2012 Tina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a math major in college. I chose it for a major because the concepts of numbers and the relationships in the study of number theory fascinated me. Strictly speaking, I never had a job where I had to do any higher math, solve a quadratic equation, discuss or teach functions, trig, geometry, etc. But it did strengthen my ability to reason, look at ideas in the abstract and conceptualize a problem in real terms. It certainly helped me a lot in working with software development in one of my pr ...more
Peter Gelfan
Jan 05, 2013 Peter Gelfan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE JOY OF X is an entertaining and insightful math book that doesn’t require much mathematical know-how or computation, just interest. It’s essentially a collection of essays, each one addressing a mathematical subject from a new and illuminating angle, all organized from the simplest to the most complex. It’s a well-written, enjoyable read.

A chronic difficulty with writing or choosing many nonfiction works is finding the right balance between informational density and readability. To put it an
Mala Ashok
'The Joy of X' delivers on its title's promise to show the readers the joy of Mathematics. However, I believe that a little knowledge of Mathematics including Algebra and Pre- calculus will help in understanding the concepts in the book.
Strogatz does a great job of giving true life examples to illustrate complicated concepts and his writing style is inimitable; for example when he says statistics helps to "find the needle of meaning in the haystack of data."
Apr 07, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After the first 2/3 of the book, I was prepared to give it a three star rating. While The Joy of X is well-written, educational, and entertaining, I really wanted Mr. Strogatz to go into more detail on the topics he covered. But as he reached more advanced and interesting topics later in the book, it became somewhat more satisfying. This book won't make you an expert on any of the mathematical topics covered, but you will learn some interesting new ways of thinking about the subject.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Alegría de leer: El placer de la x 1 4 Dec 01, 2013 05:06PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: The Joy of X 2 6 Jul 18, 2013 09:23AM  
  • The New York Times Book of Mathematics: More Than 100 Years of Writing by the Numbers
  • Mathematics: From the Birth of Numbers
  • The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics
  • Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty
  • Yearning for the Impossible: The Surprising Truths of Mathematics
  • The Colossal Book of Mathematics
  • Geometry and the Imagination
  • The Irrationals
  • The Princeton Companion to Mathematics
  • Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics
  • Journey through Genius: The Great Theorems of Mathematics
  • What Is Mathematics?: An Elementary Approach to Ideas and Methods
  • The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics (Theoretical Minimum #1)
  • A Mathematician's Lament: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form
  • In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World
  • Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz: Making Light of Weighty Ideas
  • Here's Looking at Euclid: A Surprising Excursion Through the Astonishing World of Math
  • An Imaginary Tale: The Story of the Square Root of Minus One
Steven Strogatz is the Schurman Professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University. A renowned teacher and one of the world’s most highly cited mathematicians, he has been a frequent guest on National Public Radio’s Radiolab. Among his honors are MIT's highest teaching prize, membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a lifetime achievement award for communication of math to ...more
More about Steven H. Strogatz...

Share This Book

“Looking at numbers as groups of rocks may seem unusual, but actually it's as old as math itself. The word "calculate" reflects that legacy -- it comes from the Latin word calculus, meaning a pebble used for counting. To enjoy working with numbers you don't have to be Einstein (German for "one stone"), but it might help to have rocks in your head.” 10 likes
“let’s begin with the word “vector.” It comes from the Latin root vehere, “to carry,” which also gives us words like “vehicle” and “conveyor belt.” To an epidemiologist, a vector is the carrier of a pathogen, like the mosquito that conveys malaria to your bloodstream. To a mathematician, a vector (at least in its simplest form) is a step that carries you from one place to another.” 2 likes
More quotes…