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How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method Paperback – Apr 25 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1 edition (April 25 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 069111966X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691119663
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #40,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Every prospective teacher should read it. In particular, graduate students will find it invaluable. The traditional mathematics professor who reads a paper before one of the Mathematical Societies might also learn something from the book: 'He writes a, he says b, he means c; but it should be d.' "--E. T. Bell, Mathematical Monthly

"[This] elementary textbook on heuristic reasoning, shows anew how keen its author is on questions of method and the formulation of methodological principles. Exposition and illustrative material are of a disarmingly elementary character, but very carefully thought out and selected."--Herman Weyl, Mathematical Review

"I recommend it highly to any person who is seriously interested in finding out methods of solving problems, and who does not object to being entertained while he does it."--Scientific Monthly

"Any young person seeking a career in the sciences would do well to ponder this important contribution to the teacher's art."--A. C. Schaeffer, American Journal of Psychology

"Every mathematics student should experience and live this book"--Mathematics Magazine

About the Author

George Polya (1887-1985) was one of the most influential mathematicians of the twentieth century. His basic research contributions span complex analysis, mathematical physics, probability theory, geometry, and combinatorics. He was a teacher par excellence who maintained a strong interest in pedagogical matters throughout his long career. Even after his retirement from Stanford University in 1953, he continued to lead an active mathematical life. He taught his final course, on combinatorics, at the age of ninety. John H. Conway is professor emeritus of mathematics at Princeton University. He was awarded the London Mathematical Society's Polya Prize in 1987. Like Polya, he is interested in many branches of mathematics, and in particular, has invented a successor to Polya's notation for crystallographic groups. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Format: Paperback
How does a teacher go about teaching? It is a hard trick. Written and published in the '40s, and then again subsequently Polya's "How to Solve It" is an attempt to describe the general paths to the student's Eureka! moments. As such it is also of interest to those who go about the task of discovery, and you must constantly rethink their strategies, in the face of a stubborn unknown.
Polya's consideration of the Various Approaches to problem solving hangs on several key structural bands that take the forms of a teacher's questions: Do you know any related problem? Do you know an analogous problem? [Parallelograms are considered.] Here is a problem related to yours and solved before. Can you use it? Should you introduce some auxiliary element in order to make its use possible?
These ring true to this recently mustered parental pedantic.
Polya's actual treatise is just 30 pages; the associated 'dictionary' definitions section is quite extended, actually, making up some 200 pages. He describes going back to first principles in problem solving. January 1, 2003 is a day perhaps to remember such back tracking is sometimes in order.
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Format: Paperback
How does a teacher go about teaching? It is a hard trick. Written and published in the '40s, and then again subsequently Polya's "How to Solve It" is an attempt to describe the general paths to the student's Eureka! moments. As such it is also of interest to those who go about the task of discovery, and you must constantly rethink their strategies, in the face of a stubborn unknown.
Polya's consideration of the Various Approaches to problem solving hangs on several key structural bands that take the forms of a teacher's questions: Do you know any related problem? Do you know an analogous problem? [Parallelograms are considered.] Here is a problem related to yours and solved before. Can you use it? Should you introduce some auxiliary element in order to make its use possible?
These ring true to this recently mustered parental pedantic.
Polya's actual treatise is just 30 pages; the associated 'dictionary' definitions section is quite extended, actually, making up some 200 pages. He describes going back to first principles in problem solving. January 1, 2003 is a day perhaps to remember such back tracking is sometimes in order.
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Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
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By Magellan on June 30 2002
Format: Paperback
It's delightful to see this book is still in bookstores after 60 years, and I can still remember how much fun it was to read it 30 years ago. I came across it recently in a local bookstore, and after poring over it again, I was inspired to write a little review about it.
The most important thing about the book is Polya's little heuristic method for breaking down math problems and guiding you thru the process of solving them. Try to visualize the problem as a whole. Diagram it at first, even if you don't have all the details. Just initially try to get the most important parts of the problem down. Then try to get some sense of the relationship of the parts to the whole. Then tackle each of the component parts. If you get stuck, ask yourself if you could approach it another way, what could be missing, and so on. To this end, the questions at the back of the book are worth their weight in gold.
Polya's little heuristic and methods book is a timeless classic. This and Lancelot Hogben's "Mathematics for the Millions" have done more good for suffering math students than all the the dry textbooks put together that really don't teach you "how to solve it."
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Format: Paperback
In fact, do you want to be a robot? I talked to a woman who took a whole semester in computer science and came out learning nothing. She told me this. My love affair with Real Math started with this book in a library. I was reading a book which had a bunch of interviews with the most successful programmers in the world. One was Czech and I do not remember his name. But he was asked the following question. "What in your opinion is the biggest mistake that programmers are doing in their educations or their work today?" He answered, "It's simple. They don't know how to solve problems. At our company, we have some simple books that tell you how to do this. The best is Polya's 'How to Solve It'. It has a little diagram in the back that completely runs you through a series of questions on solving math problems. But even in schools, they don't take this approach. Everything is by rote and repetition! You solve a problem and YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU SOLVED! We have a lot of these little books." The late Isaac Asimov wrote a beautiful little book called "The Realm of Algebra". It's out of print. But he explains the entire realm of algebra in something like 150 pages. The best book I've ever seen about math. Math can be fun. Programming can be fun. But only if you ask Polya's questions in the back of this book. "What do I have to do to make this problem complete?" "What is missing from this problem?" "What could I add to make this problem solved?" A two page diagram in the back. And everybody knows that programming is just "crummy mathematics". BUY THE BOOK! BUY THE BOOK! BUY THE BOOK!. 2 pages in the end of this book and at least 50% of your math/programming problems are down the drain.Read more ›
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