CTK Insights

Archive for the 'Books to read' Category

23 Feb

A First Look at "The Population Explosion" Book

Tweet The book in fact has a longer title: The Population Explosion and Other Mathematical Puzzles. The title warrants an observation. I once wrote of the difference in attitude of mathematicians and puzzlists to solving problems. While, for a puzzlist, solving a problem is a goal in itself, for a mathematician it may serve as […]

01 May

A wrapping surprise

As you may surmise, the path will behave - if I may say so - in a more rational way. Given the incommensurate dimensions of the box it was rational to expect an endless path. This is what you get on the second attempt. But there remains a question to ponder: Why was the first path so short? Jim Henle leaves to his readers to find the answer.

01 Apr

Why Learn Mental Math Tricks?

I strongly believe that those tricks are more than anything else convey to the early learners the essence of practicing mathematics. Presh Talwalkar's book may also open the eyes of an older generation on what they missed in the early grades.

14 Sep

Review of Coffee, Love and Matrix Algebra

Although a mathematics professor, Gary navigates his story with the skill of a professional writer. He narrates his story that takes several imaginative turns with confidence of a participant and kind humor of life's keen observer. That's a great story, masterfully and engagingly told. Read and enjoy.

29 Jan

Wizards, Aliens, and Starships

Truth be told, at the outset, when I realized what the book was about, I was a little annoyed. Science is science and fantasy is fantasy, and one may not want to know that there might be something wrong with the concepts in the book one is enjoying. Should everything be laid bare? That's literature we are talking about, for crying out loud, not textbooks or manuals! But Adler's writing is lucid and engaging and it sucks you in. There are so many whys and whats that I eventually developed a feeling that reality may be by far more interesting then any kind of fiction.

18 Jan

Kordemsky's Palindrome Problem

In his last book Mathematical Allurments (Matematicheskie Zavlekalki), published posthumously in 2000, he tells a story of a 7th grade girl who got tempted to solve that problem and found a solution, too. She informed Kordemsky that her solution was different from the one in the book. Kordemsky encouraged her to look further, for other solutions. Several of her classmates get involved in the search that eventually produced more than 120 solutions. I can imagine Kordemsky's delight in seeing his efforts at attracting young minds to mathematics being born fruit. The kids even came up with something unexpected: many of the numbers they came up lead to other solutions when some pairs of their digits get swapped.

09 Oct

Undiluted Hocus-Pocus: The Autobiography of Martin Gardner

Tweet Martin Gardner refers to his latest, and - perhaps - last, book as a rambling (and also slovenly) autobiography, disheveled memoirs. It is anything but. It is the most sincere, unadulterated biography I ever read. He wrote it in 2009-2010 on an old typewriter while at an assisted living facility. "At ninety-five I still […]

05 Jun

Naming Infinity - the book

This is an unusual book that eludes categorization. It's an outline of fundamental mathematical ideas cultivated by human beings, of mathematics as a human endeavor in the most candid sense of the word. It's a collection of biographical sketches - and not only of mathematicians - on a historic background, spread from the Dreyfus affair in France, and over the failed Russian revolution of 1905, the WWI, the October revolution, the Stalinists purges, the WWII, and post-Stalinist experimentations.

The book is a tangle of documented evidence and, likely, anecdotal testimony. It's warm, humane and makes an absorbing reading

07 May

Applying Daniel Dennett's New Book

TweetLast week I got ahold of the new book by Daniel Dennett - Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking. I knew of Dennett - a prolific author and a noted philosopher at Tufts University - from his earlier books, Brainstorms, The Mind's I, Consciousness Explained.   I've been recently spending time in physical therapy […]

20 Mar

The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible

The only known serious approach to the N versus NP problem today is due to Ketan Mulmuley from t he University of Chicago. He has shown that solving some difficult problems in a mathematical field called algebraic geometry (considerably more complex than high school algebra and geometry) may lead to a proof that N ≠ NP. But resolving these algebraic geometry problems may require mathematical techniques far beyond what we have available today.

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