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The Best Writing on Mathematics 2010 [Paperback]

William P. Thurston , Mircea Pitici

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Book Description

Jan. 2 2011 0691148414 978-0691148410 Reprint

This anthology brings together the year's finest writing on mathematics from around the world. Featuring promising new voices alongside some of the foremost names in mathematics, The Best Writing on Mathematics makes available to a wide audience many articles not easily found anywhere else--and you don't need to be a mathematician to enjoy them. These writings offer surprising insights into the nature, meaning, and practice of mathematics today. They delve into the history, philosophy, teaching, and everyday occurrences of math, and take readers behind the scenes of today's hottest mathematical debates. Here readers will discover why Freeman Dyson thinks some mathematicians are birds while others are frogs; why Keith Devlin believes there's more to mathematics than proof; what Nick Paumgarten has to say about the timing patterns of New York City's traffic lights (and why jaywalking is the most mathematically efficient way to cross Sixty-sixth Street); what Samuel Arbesman can tell us about the epidemiology of the undead in zombie flicks; and much, much more.

In addition to presenting the year's most memorable writing on mathematics, this must-have anthology also includes a foreword by esteemed mathematician William Thurston and an informative introduction by Mircea Pitici. This book belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in where math has taken us--and where it's headed.


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Review

"Pitici . . . has put together a mathematics anthology gleaned from articles published in 2009 in a range of popular and scholarly sources. The collection is quite international in scope. . . . This collection is more than just a set of reprints; the assembly from diverse and, in some cases, not easily accessible publications and the arrangement add value to this work."--Library Journal

"Imagine for a moment that you had a friend who was a voracious reader of Math journals and periodicals. And, imagine that this friend had a knack for finding articles that were of interest to mathematicians and non-mathematicians alike by well-known writers and by new talent. Would you be interested in reading a few dozen of these articles? Mircea Pitici, editor of The Best Writing on Mathematics 2010 is such a friend, even if you've never met him. . . . A nice set of stimulating articles that appeal to a wide audience."--Sol Lederman, Wild About Math!

"As a mathematician engrossed in my own area . . . I've been delighted to have this book in my house. One inevitably will not agree with every choice of work for inclusion, but it would be a dull book if it simply presented us with what we like. What is important is that it is varied and balanced, and contains the odd surprise."--Charles Eaton, LMS Newsletter

"Mircea Pitici has succeeded in putting together a wonderful and varied bouquet of texts related to mathematics. . . . I highly recommend this book to everyone with an interest in mathematics, whether they are professional mathematician, graduate or undergraduate students, teachers, or enthusiastic amateurs."--Stephen Buckley, Irish Math Society Bulletin

"I would highly recommend this book as a good read to anyone with an interest in mathematics. Whether a professional mathematician, university or sixth form student, teacher, or recreational mathematician, there will be something there for you."--Steve Humble, Mathematics Today

"I recommend this book to Gazette readers as enjoyable bedside reading."--Phill Schultz, Australian Math Society Gazette

From the Back Cover

"I had thought that I kept up fairly well on mathematical publications of a general sort--that was until I looked at the rich variety of pieces included in this book, most of which were new to me. I found this collection overall very attractive."--Gerald L. Alexanderson, Santa Clara University

"A delight to read. This is a fine volume with lots of terrific articles that are as enticing as they are varied. The sum total is simply great."--Barry Mazur, Harvard University


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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read for the math lovers, something for everyone Feb. 13 2012
By Marc Mest - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great collection of math articles and papers from the year 2010. Sure most of it is out there on the internet, but the author does a great job of organizing and presenting math from the historical, philosophical, applied, and academic.

The description does not really do this book justice, since they don't even highlight some of the best articles in the book.

There are a few great articles on applied math. My personal favorite and worth the price of the book is the one on probability and optimizing your odds by knowing when to stop. And there is a great one on math and the internet.

Tim Gowers has a contribution.

The other side of this are the critical articles addressing issues related to math and academics. For me it was the ADA article, since I am disabled. And a critical look at Calculus textbooks, and how the simplification of terminology is hurting students. ( an oversimplification ).

I have only touched on some of my favorites. this spans all aspects of math and is not a purely academic read.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book with mathematical themes that span a spectrum June 17 2013
By AC - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love books like this... one does not have to read it in any particular order, and selecting which article to read can seem akin to deciding what kind of food to select from a wonderful buffet. And depending on whatever I happen to feel like taking a dive into, topic-wise, I'm sure to find something that is compatible with the given 'mood'.

Among the interesting and unexpected topics I came across in this book (and delightedly so) was a fascinating piece in which the question of why the English translation/version of Einstein's landmark paper on relativity lacked the initial page that was included in other versions, in which he praised mathematics (and theoretical ventures into areas for which no practical application was known at the time), and specific mathematicians, and why (and their relevance to the theory he was about to expound on).

I am thankful that a compiled anthology involving mathematics was begun at all, let alone that it has continued, as an annual publication.

I highly recommend this book for those whose interest in mathematics extends beyond the specifics of calculation, and into the arenas of theory, discovery, application, philosophy, and teaching/education/communication.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done book on mathematics. May 29 2012
By phoebleweeble - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am more than half way through the book and am enjoying a look into the different facets of mathematics - its use, the various philosophies and methods in approaching the subject, and its education.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little about a lot of things, all very well done Nov. 2 2013
By Charles Ashbacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is typical of anthologies, in that for almost all people, some of the papers will excite while others will be somewhat dull. For not everyone is interested in all mathematics in all the ranges from research to history to education to fun.
Yet, there is also something in here that will titillate the math parts of every person interested in mathematics. The level of the papers is that of popular mathematics, there are few equations and those are generally below the level of college mathematics.
The papers are organized into the sections:

*) Mathematics alive
*) Mathematicians and the practice of mathematics
*) Mathematics and its applications
*) Mathematics education
*) History and philosophy of mathematics
*) Mathematics in the media

One of my favorite papers was “If Mathematics Is a Language, How Do You Swear in It? “ by David Wagner. He notes that one category of swearing is to say something non-permissible, which is rather easy to do in mathematics. It contains an amusing collection of analogies between verbal and mathematical improprieties. Like many other items in this collect, it would be an excellent article to have math classes read and discuss.

Published in Journal of Recreational Mathematics, reprinted with permission

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