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Frankel's memoir of his early and mid career as a mathematical physicist is a study in overcoming the Soviet system, academic politics, and his own seFrankel's memoir of his early and mid career as a mathematical physicist is a study in overcoming the Soviet system, academic politics, and his own self-doubt to become a productive and charismatic force in the world of mathematical physics. There are a few chapters that prove to be quite dense in terms of the math but these are easily skipped if you aren't interested in category theory.

The one place I felt left down was the author's connection to math. I get that he finds it beautiful and that it proved to be an organizing principle of his life but I feel you could replace "math" with "art" or "chemistry" or "social organizing" and we'd wind up with a somewhat similar book. Regardless, the book is good enough that I wish more contemporary authors would share there experiences and explain the connections between their passions and the world we live in but the author is by no means an amazing writer or a transcendent memoirist....more

Simon Singh is a skilled writer and what he brings to the area of cryptology are examples. He skips much of the history of codebreaking and codemakingSimon Singh is a skilled writer and what he brings to the area of cryptology are examples. He skips much of the history of codebreaking and codemaking but targets key developments along the way. But importantly, he includes examples. Too many discussions of cryptology explain steps but giving a step by step example gives you an idea of the difficulty and richness of codes when you have to go through the actual steps.

The hard work of both the cryptologist and cryptographer are given appropriate credit and comes closest to conveying the necessity of pathological persistence in code work.

By 2016, the book is a little out of date and could be updated to reflect that the role of encryption is front and center in our lives the way few things have ever been. The text is clear and serves as an excellent primer for the curious....more

Naked statistics does a reasonable job of presenting basic statistics to the reader in an easy way. I feel the attempts at humor get in the way and soNaked statistics does a reasonable job of presenting basic statistics to the reader in an easy way. I feel the attempts at humor get in the way and some more advanced concepts are introduced in an odd order for the sake of a fake narrative. This isn't a bad introduction, I just strongly feel it could be much better....more

The Theory That Would Not Die is a history of Bayes' Theorem and the struggle Bayesianism has been in with frequentism for the two centuries. I foundThe Theory That Would Not Die is a history of Bayes' Theorem and the struggle Bayesianism has been in with frequentism for the two centuries. I found the book enjoyable but there were two shortcomings:

1) The depth to which a particular example was taken was highly variable. Some things were merely mentioned while others were reviewed in great detail. The best chapters explaining the applications of Bayes' Theorem occurred 2/3rds of the way through the book, well after the explanation would have been best suited.

2) The ambiguity of the name is brought up repeatedly. Sometimes Laplace is mentioned, sometimes Bayes, sometimes price. It feels like the author loses track.

The book could have been better executed but I don't know another one which tackles the topicality so for now it seems to be the best....more

Bottom Line: Really well written book on the role statistics and modeling play in the modern world.

The book talks about a lot of systems, but I feel tBottom Line: Really well written book on the role statistics and modeling play in the modern world.

The book talks about a lot of systems, but I feel the three take away points on which Silver has a unique perspective are:

1) The profusion of large data sets has made finding insight harder not easier. Large sets tackled with standard statistical tools lead to a lot of false positives as one creates synthetic variables. Understanding and a good base model are required to bring this into focus. That skill set isn't there yet.

2) Predictions need to have confidence intervals or ranges to them. Point indicators are useless these days.

3) We need to shift thinking from frequentist to Bayesian predictions which means sacrificing the notion of a perfect experiment and being comfortable with creating Bayesian priors.

The above are reasonable and his discussion of areas where prediction will improve vs. those where it will not is quite good.

If you want an insight into the tools of modernity, please read....more

I very much enjoyed The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness. Both have entered a very select collection of books where I keep a copy on hand to give tI very much enjoyed The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness. Both have entered a very select collection of books where I keep a copy on hand to give to people which gets replenished every now and again.

Antifragile has a good idea to it, that there are systems that are improved by being agitated. The author describes how this idea can be applied to every walk of life and encounter we have and weaves it in with his own Levantine ethic. The book seems very personal, and at points seems a way to attack very specific people or ideas which I suppose the author gets to do as he's, well, an author.

This book was enjoyable but the piling on of criticisms left a bad taste in my mouth. I think The Black Swan is the best introduction to outlier events and their effects on us. Some of the rhetorical tactics Taleb uses feel dishonest against the uninformed reader and the metaconversation of rules for rules is somewhat buried....more

Euclid's Window is an unremarkable tour of a very specific line of reasoning that is neither refreshing nor fleshed out. The narrative is supposed toEuclid's Window is an unremarkable tour of a very specific line of reasoning that is neither refreshing nor fleshed out. The narrative is supposed to span the progress of ideas coming from the advent of space as a notion to modern multidimensional brane theory but the path drawn by the author is not clear.

Writing - The writing itself is fine. The prose is concise, the jokes are acceptable, and the anecdotes are quaint. Definitions are usually good with periodic reminders.

Organization - Strictly chronological. There is little tying back of concepts to their origin as well as indicating where an idea will go except for a rapid change back and forth regarding events at the turn of the previous century. It is not obvious why a given topic is include or why others excluded.

Breadth - This is where the book falls flat. Whole tracts of geometry are excluded liked most of Islamic math, Vedic math, and large bits of contemporary geometry. Embedding, manifolds, and compacting are very briefly mentioned....more