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The Indisputable Existence of Santa Claus: The Mathematics of Christmas

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  650 ratings  ·  84 reviews
How do you apply game theory to select who should be on your Christmas shopping list? Can you predict Her Majesty's Christmas Message? Will calculations show Santa is getting steadily thinner - shimmying up and down chimneys for a whole night - or fatter - as he tucks into a mince pie and a glass of sherry in billions of houses across the world?

Full of diagrams, sketches a
Kindle Edition, 160 pages
Published November 3rd 2016 by Transworld Digital
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Poppy Nope, no Santa spoilers. They may find the maths a little challenging (some of it is degree level), but it's well explained and relatively easy to fol…moreNope, no Santa spoilers. They may find the maths a little challenging (some of it is degree level), but it's well explained and relatively easy to follow if you have a mathematical mind.(less)

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The mathematics of Christmas: A review of the Indisputable Existence of Santa Claus


Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very fun and festive book. I always love Hannah's writing! Most of the book is very accessible though a few of the calculations for wrapping paper and cooking turkey were a bit too much for my Christmassy brain power, so I decided to just trust them and carry on. the main thing is that Santa has been proved real, once and for all, so I'm happy. ...more
Mary E. Gilmore
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I hate math. There. I said it. Homework throughout my entire academic journey gave me near crippling anxiety. That said, the authors of this book purport their belief that "mathematics is so powerful that it has the potential to offer a new way of looking at anything — even something as warm and wonderful as Christmas." From trimming the tree, wrapping presents, to Secret Santa exchanges, I now believe that, too. I would have rated this book a four, but the delightful illustrations bumped it up ...more
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Probably not meant to be read through in one sitting, the humor can become forced at times. That said, there is humor, intelligent footnotes, and the math is well explained. The worst thing are the references to various youtube channels and demonstrations - this felt like a paper copy of a video.
I am following Numberphile channel on YouTube and in one of the videos Hannah Fry was talking about her book “The Indisputable Existence of Santa Claus”. I love math, statistics, and fun facts, so the book looked very suitable for me.

Based on the contents of the book, someone who have watched every single Numberphile video will find little to no new ideas. I already knew how to win at Monopoly based on statistics (but somehow I can win by owning brown worthless set). I already heard that it is p
Emma Yoloswag
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who doesn't completely abhor maths
No, you don't need to be a math nerd to like this.

I'm a math nerd, I'll admit that much. Perhaps that disqualifies me from stating my opinion on this, but I'll do it anyway: The math in this book is easy to follow, and even if you can't follow it, I think you'll understand what's going on anyway. The authors explain everything in a simple, but not condescending way, and it's sprinkled with humour. Yes, it's evident that they are trying to be funny, but it works.

Have some fun this Christmas.
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very funny and accessible to those who have little math knowledge. The enjoyment from the book would still be significant if all of the formula were ignored as the text itself is exemplary in its explanations.

Queenie Bingo will definitely be on the cards!
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a sweet little book. Took me like one and a half days to read it. Kinda corny at times (okay, maybe many times), but it's the time of the year when corny is most well-received anyway. Happy Holidays, everyone! ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
If people taught math like this, I might be a mathematician instead. I loved it, even when the math was a bit over my head.
Daniela D
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an excellent read. Light and super informative, plus a lot of fun for the Christmas lovers! I don't think I've seen Markov chains explained better than this anywhere else!!! ...more
Michael Rumney
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
The mathematics sometimes goes over my head and at other times I get it thanks to a HNC in chemistry and some over lapping formula. Neatly packaged into 10 chapters makes the book easy to put down and have a rest which is needed in my case on the mathematics of wrapping presents and making decorations, my Manual Dexterity is useless. I once got zero in a plant sectioning attempt in A level biology. Without giving anything away the authors prove Santa exists but I prefer using Father Christmas be ...more
Chrissy Adams
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fun, nerdy Christmas book (perfect for me!). It reads pretty quickly and even if you’re not great at math it should make sense. Graphs and diagrams are included. Who doesn’t want to prove Santa exists, indisputably? Other Christmas topics are discussed as well, including decorating the tree, buying presents, turkey cooking, present wrapping, and how to win at Monopoly, among other things. This is super fun and highly recommended. Santa does exist!
Surupa Mukhopadhyay
Dec 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Math has taken practicality to another level altogether, and messed up my brains about the simplicity of wrapping and buying presents and decorating a Christmas tree, forever!
Elliot Cossum
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never thought looking at a holiday from a truly mathematical perspective could be so fun!
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
So, I love Hannah Fry, and I really enjoyed this book. I love how funny it was and how silly the authours were, but if anything, the thing keeping it from being a 5 star book is that the math and the concepts were too simple. I know, I know, who is this ridiculous girl who is hating on math books built for the masses, but honestly there are only so many times you can read about how to cut a cake fairly before it's just old math.

The chapters I liked the most were mainly those that addressed a con
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Providing “all the tools you need to plan the perfect mathematical Christmas” (p. 20) The Indisputable Existence of Santa Claus: The Mathematics of Christmas is an entertaining novelty book that tries to be a little too clever for its own good. Tackling such subjects as decorating a Christmas tree, cooking a turkey, creating ornaments, winning at Monopoly, and organizing a Secret Santa, Drs. Hannah Fry and Thomas Oléron Evans go through the math step by step. And of course all of the equations a ...more
Lucy Littlefield
Jan 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: I understand that this book qualifies as a “pop math” book and it’s under the assumption that readers have a pre-requisite of a certain level of mathematical knowledge.

I give this book a high 3/low 4. While the book was without a doubt entertaining, comedic, and generally well-written for the non-mathematician, I would say there are some mathematical concepts that went above my head that created a mild distraction for getting through the book. The Secret Santa chapter, in particular,
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had so much fun reading this book, just a shame that I didn't read this before Christmas so that I could implement some of the fun suggestions! However, do not fear, next year I will be partaking in some Queenie bingo, making some mathematically interesting tree decorations and will be organising the most secret 'Secret Santa' that my office has ever seen.
I think the maths is reasonably accessible and for the trickier parts you always have the option of just looking at the pretty pictures, or
Alex Chan
Jan 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a fun little book: presenting some well-trodden mathematical concepts in a somewhat different setting. I was already familiar with most of the maths in the book, but that didn’t stop me being entertained and amused as I read it.

Includes some Euclidean geometry, game theory, and Markov chains, but to name a few pieces – but it feels pretty accessible, even to somebody who hasn’t done any maths beyond GCSE.

Favourite fact: in Denmark, children leave out rice pudding instead of mince pies fo
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I spotted this while walking through the library and immediately thought of a semitic idea along these lines, before even checking out the content. I took out the book, and found an uproarious collection of mathematical nerdiness, hilariously applied. Now the math is way over my head, and irreproducible from my own brain, but my specific idea? I'm going to run with it. I'm not scared of the math for that one. Stay tuned. If I can flesh it out into a book idea (likelihood: 13.7%), then these auth ...more
Kayse Maass
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: orms, women-in-stem, 2018
As a mathematician, I found this to be a wonderfully light read. Written tongue-in-cheek, the authors playfully discuss the mathematics for the existence of Santa, as well as some perhaps-not-so-practical-yet-still-fun ideas for deciding how to buy presents for people, dividing a desert among guests, and wrapping gifts. While many readers may view this book as a novelty Christmas item, it will be one I fondly share with friends and family (and even students in my Markova Chain course!) to convin ...more
Jonathan Morrow
There were some mildly interesting applications of mathematics in here, but nothing too impressive. I'm not sure why this book is so popular. It seems to me if you have any interest in mathematics, you'll know most of the stuff in here before reading the book. If you don't have any interest in mathematics, it's hard to imagine you would be entertained by this book about mathematics. It's an easy read, but overall it's still probably not worth the effort. ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was such a cute read - finally, a practical application for all of those math classes I was forced to sit through in high school.

Included are: tips for how to cook the perfect turkey (bonus points if you can find a perfectly spherical one), suggestions for 'Queen's Speech' bingo and a neat application of probability laws when playing Monopoly. Also, it goes on to scientifically explain something I've maintained for years: the best presents to wrap are rectangular - fact.
Clive F
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very nice little book of mathematics as applied to various Christmas problems. Although this is in the long tradition of seasonal stocking-fillers, the execution was great: the maths was non-trivial, but not so hard as to require a degree in the subject (although there were extra-hard sums in the footnotes, where appropriate), and the whole subject was treated with the appropriate degree of tongue in cheek sillyness. In the meantime, everything from simple geometry to Markov chains was used to s ...more
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Super cute Christmas book for the math literate in your life. It is not too difficult on the math, the scary bits are in the endnotes, but you would have to enjoy math to love this book. How to cook a turkey, ensure everyone gets a prize in the crackers, and gift wrapping strategies are just some of the problems addressed. Very witty and mathy. Loved it. May read as annual tradition.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a delightful little book, full of math, humor, and Britishness. As an American I feel like I did miss a few jokes, but I learned a lot of cool math, and quite enjoyed the sparkling, witty prose (that’s the American usage of “quite”) Strongly recommend for a quick, charming, and educational read!
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book! I did take a rather long gap in the middle of reading it (that one’s on me) but it was thoroughly enjoyable and I’d recommend it to anyone with even the slightest interest in maths (or Santa). This maths discussed in this book was very interesting whilst being easy to comprehend, and the prose was humorous throughout. A great read all-round!
Oct 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Liked it.

Easy to read, very well written and full of great humor. There are a couple of well known and common math gimmicks, but presented in a new, fresh, christmas-y manner, added with some subjects that are not all that common in the literature (Markov chains come to mind).

Overall, a great read, would recommend.
Julian Onions
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, factual
A fun book to read with lots of good humour. Some interesting maths explained well, and to a depth you can follow if you wish. How much tinsel will you need for your Christmas tree, how many calories will Santa consume and use delivering presents. Also includes some nice work on logical fallacies and 1+1 != 2.
Nicely done!
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Dr Hannah Fry is a lecturer in the Mathematics of Cities at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL. She works alongside a unique mix of physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, architects and geographers to study the patterns in human behaviour - particularly in an urban setting. Her research applies to a wide range of social problems and questions, from shopping and transport to ...more

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