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The Book of Numbers Hardcover – Mar 16 1998
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The Book of Numbers lets readers of all levels of mathematical sophistication (or lack thereof) understand the origins, patterns, and interrelationships of different numbers. Whether it is a visualization of the Catalan numbers or an explanation of how the Fibonacci numbers occur in nature, there is something in here to delight everyone. The diagrams and pictures, many of which are in color, make this book particularly appealing and fun. A few of the discussions may be confusing to those who are not adept mathematicians; those who are may be irked that certain facts are mentioned without an accompanying proof. Nonetheless, The Book of Numbers will succeed in infecting any reader with an enthusiasm for numbers.
From Library Journal
The authors are well known to both academic and recreational mathematicians?Conway for inventing the "game of life" and discovering surreal numbers and Guy as the editor of the "Unsolved Problems" section in American Mathematical Monthly. They also coauthored the classic Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays (Academic, 1982). This popularization of number theory looks like another classic. Though number theory does not lend itself to fun and games, the authors take such joy in the order and patterns of numbers that you can't help being fascinated by what is actually a fairly difficult subject. A combination of clear verbal explanations, wonderfully clever diagrams, and equations (for the real mathematicians) make sometimes complicated numerical concepts accessible to those "without particular mathematical background" (i.e., who are not at least graduate students in mathematics). The material is simplified but not dumbed down. A bridge to understanding and appreciating higher mathematical concepts, this book could appeal to anyone from a mathematically sophisticated high school student to a university mathematics professor.?Amy Brunvand, Univ. of Utah Lib., Salt Lake City
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Presented in a unique and engaging style that one associates with the authors, the numbers come to life with descriptions that hold your interest and leave you wanting more. The level of demonstration is not extremely technical, being well within the range of anyone who has been exposed to the topics of precalculus. Figures are used extensively, giving a visual interpretation of several ways in which the numbers can be used. Many of the numbers covered in the book are named after the person most responsible for making it famous, an aspiration that most mathematicians would no doubt confess to. In some cases, I was previously unaware of the name assigned to the numbers.
When I am in the mood for some light reading in mathematics, my preferred form is some type of listing of the properties of numbers. In this case, I found several hours of enjoyment and recommend it to anyone with similar tastes.
Published in Journal of Recreational Mathematics, reprinted with permission.
fractions to surreal numbers; from numbers so large they cannot
be imagined (and barely be named) to ruler-and-compass; all prefaced by
a virtuoso etymologic riff.
Beautifully produced, engagingly written, full of new perspectives
on old material - and new material too. The book contains so
much disparate information that each reader will find
something in particular that he or she likes. I do not
think I have ever seen a popularization at once so interesting
to anyone from bright junior high-school student to a professional
I have two minor complaints. First, there are some misprints
(for example in the description of trisections), and in some of
the early diagrams the orange and the red tiles come out looking
the same. In view of the extraordinary complexity of the
production and in view of the overall visual appeal and
clarity of the presentation, these slight errors do not
detract from the impact.
The more serious problem has to do with the fact that the
book is so fascinating
that it can be a real time sink. I have personally lost many
hours pondering the big (and I mean /big/) numbers Conway
and Guy describe, for instance. The book is almost like a
CD-ROM game in that one can get completely lost in it for days.
It made me wistful, too, that I had not had this book when I was first
learning mathematics (also, it could use a few more references
to things like Graham's number and surreal asymptotics).
Not only that but, despite its fairly hefty price tag, I
find myself buying copies for friends - so it can use up
not only a lot of time but money too!
The historical review makes the book a good addition to public libraries and high school libraries.
I particularly liked the review of Gregory Numbers.
It will wake you up mathematically even with a background of high school mathematics.
Teachers should find it useful to augment ciriculums in high school and college math classes.
Richard Brown Research Director 1248 Institute Charleston, SC
Most recent customer reviews
Conway wrote On Numbers and Games. Conway, Guy, and Berlekamp wrote Winning Ways. These groundbreaking books are now hard to find. I hope both will be reprinted soon. Read morePublished on Nov. 17 1999
I am always fascinated by the occasional use of certain numbers within chapter titles, and this book put me in mind of that writing device. Read morePublished on July 11 1999
The authors present novel and surprising results about different varieties of numbers, with enough elementary discussions to provide readers with a high school background their... Read morePublished on March 17 1999
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