I wasn't able to finish this, although the first few chapters were pretty interesting, about the author's troubles getting a university education as aI wasn't able to finish this, although the first few chapters were pretty interesting, about the author's troubles getting a university education as a Jew in Soviet Russia. I'm afraid the math part didn't grab me, although my BA is in math. Maybe if I had read this soon after my studies, I would have liked it better....more

I was only able to get about halfway into this book. While the history of the math was interesting, I couldn't get into the physics applications. I thI was only able to get about halfway into this book. While the history of the math was interesting, I couldn't get into the physics applications. I think I would have appreciated it more if I'd read it when I was studying math and physics (50 years ago). Much of what I learned then has evaporated....more

This is an interesting mix of poetry, history, algebra and geometry, leading the reader to appreciate the development of the understanding of i, the sThis is an interesting mix of poetry, history, algebra and geometry, leading the reader to appreciate the development of the understanding of i, the square root of minus one. I was particularly struck by the explanation of arithmetical operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication) as manipulations of the real number line. Thus adding 5 to each number shifts the line 5 places to the right (or subtracting shifts it to the left), and multiplying by a positive number causes the number line to expand or contract uniformly, depending on whether the number is larger than one or smaller than one. Next, multiplying by -1 causes the line to flip around 180 degrees. And finally, multiplying by i rotates the line 90 degrees counterclockwise, giving you the complex plane. Once we have this plane, it's easy to visualize addition and multiplication of complex numbers. I've forgotten a lot since studying complex variables 50 years ago, but this book brought a lot of it back....more

Benoit Mandelbrot lead a very long and peripatetic life, and unlike most mathematicians, whose major work is done when they are relatively young, hisBenoit Mandelbrot lead a very long and peripatetic life, and unlike most mathematicians, whose major work is done when they are relatively young, his groundbreaking The Fractal Geometry of Nature wasn't published until 1977, when he was 53. Born in Warsaw in 1924 to Lithuanian Jewish parents, he and his family escaped the Nazis to settle in France, where he studied math. He was always interested in applying math to different fields, like economics, fluid dynamics, information theory, many more. He worked at IBM, Princeton, Yale, Harvard, and at universities in France and Switzerland. While his life was interesting, this memoir felt a bit disjointed. He completed it not long before his death in 2010....more

I was hoping to really like this book, as it involves my favorite equation, Euler's identity,

e^(i * pi) + 1 = 0.

Such an elegant way to connect the fiI was hoping to really like this book, as it involves my favorite equation, Euler's identity,

e^(i * pi) + 1 = 0.

Such an elegant way to connect the five most important constants in math, along with fundamental mathematical operations. Unfortunately, the understanding of the math involved in the book, which I'm sure I used to have 50 years ago when I got my BA in math, has left me. I had to skip over most of the equations in the book (and there are a lot of them), so I don't even know if I can count this book as "read." But what I was able to read was interesting, especially the early history, where the concept of the square root of minus one helped solve otherwise intractable problems, but the men who figured out the methods were so reluctant to believe in it as a number (hence the designation "imaginary")....more

Penrose the cat lives with his mistress, who writes about math. Being a cat, he's curious about what she's working on. The stories are all short withPenrose the cat lives with his mistress, who writes about math. Being a cat, he's curious about what she's working on. The stories are all short with lots of pictures. It's hard to know what ages this would appeal to. It starts off with binary numbers, goes on to square roots and irrational numbers, magic squares, the Fibonacci series, many other topics. There are quizzes at the end of most stories, with answers at the end. The only disappointing thing was the monochrome purple text and pictures....more

This was a really interesting book, which cleared up a lot of misconceptions I had about Fibonacci. I had thought his main contribution to math was hiThis was a really interesting book, which cleared up a lot of misconceptions I had about Fibonacci. I had thought his main contribution to math was his series (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, ...), where each new element is the sum of the previous two, and which is found in many places in nature. I had thought he lived in the 17th or 18th century, and that his name was Fibonacci. Actually he lived from around 1170 to 1250, his name was Leonardo Pisano (Leonardo of Pisa) and his real claim to fame was the popularization of the Hindu-Arabic numeral system in medieval Europe. Until his book Liber Abaci (Book of Calculation) became widely circulated, merchants used Roman numerals and abacus-like counting boards to do their calculations. One interesting feature of the book is that the ten chapters are numbered from zero to nine. It's amazing to think how cumbersome simple arithmetic was without zero and using only Roman numerals....more

This is an amusing short book dealing with various functions in the form of an ABC book for kids, although I wouldn't expect anyone who hadn't taken sThis is an amusing short book dealing with various functions in the form of an ABC book for kids, although I wouldn't expect anyone who hadn't taken some high school math, at least, to get it. X isn't a popular letter until he teams up with Friendly F, who shows him how they can be many things together. So we get f(x)=|x|, absolute value, for A, down through the alphabet....more

This is a very interesting look at the foundations of math and logic and the people who tackled them during the 20th century. I have to admit that I dThis is a very interesting look at the foundations of math and logic and the people who tackled them during the 20th century. I have to admit that I didn't follow everything, even though my degree (obtained long, long ago) was in math. But the comic book format was a bold choice....more