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The Joy of x

A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


“Delightful . . . easily digestible chapters include plenty of helpful examples and illustrations. You'll never forget the Pythagorean theorem again!”Scientific American

Many people take math in high school and promptly forget much of it. But math plays a part in all of our lives all of the time, whether we know it or not. In The Joy of x, Steven Strogatz expands on his hit New York Times series to explain the big ideas of math gently and clearly, with wit, insight, and brilliant illustrations.

Whether he is illuminating how often you should flip your mattress to get the maximum lifespan from it, explaining just how Google searches the internet, or determining how many people you should date before settling down, Strogatz shows how math connects to every aspect of life. Discussing pop culture, medicine, law, philosophy, art, and business, Strogatz is the math teacher you wish you’d had. Whether you aced integral calculus or aren’t sure what an integer is, you’ll find profound wisdom and persistent delight in The Joy of x.

From Publishers Weekly

Jul 09, 2012 – Even the most math-phobic readers might forget their dread after just a few pages of Strogatz s (The Calculus of Friendship) latest. The author, a Cornell professor of applied mathematics, begins with arithmetic, by way of Sesame Street, then explores algebra, geometry, and, finally, the wonders of calculus all done cheerfully, with many a wry turn of phrase. From addition and subtraction, with a glimpse into negative numbers and the black art of borrowing, it s a quick step into the hardcore detective work of algebra s search for the unknown x, with algorithms like the quadratic equation, the Rodney Dangerfield of algebra ( it don t get no respect ). Strogatz rhapsodizes over geometry, which he sees as a marriage of logic and intuition that teaches how to build arguments, step by rigorous step, and geometry s loosey-goosey offshoot, topology. Brisk chapters on prime numbers, basic statistics, and probability are all enlightening without being intimidating. Most impressive is Strogatz s coverage of calculus, the math used to figure out everything from how fast epidemics spread to the trajectory of a curveball. Readers will appreciate this lighthearted and thoroughly entertaining book. Illus.

Customer Reviews

good stuff but...

i enjoyed reading this, every chapter opened some insightful "angle" on the topic being discussed. But the first and last chapter (on numbers and infinite sets respectively) stopped short, very short, of making the distinction between Algebraic and Transcendental numbers (collectively the irrational numbers) which to me was disappointing. In the first chapter there is simply the mention of irrational numbers, in the last simply the acknowledgement that there are uncountable sets larger than the infinite set of counting numbers (i.e. integers in effect). I wish he'd dug a little deeper into the nature of Transcendental numbers without which there is neither continuity nor any measure to the continuum. Good book though, lots of good stuff and some passages which are quite illuminating, would watch to see if he writes another book of this sort because he seems to know the math, is able to present it in a refreshing way and there's certainly more math to write about.

The Joy of x
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  • $2.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Mathematics
  • Published: Oct 01, 2013
  • Publisher: HMH Books
  • Seller: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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