Numbers

The powers and pleasures of mathematics.

 

Innumeracy

By John Allen Paulos

Numbers carry facts, ideas, information, and intelligence of every sort. What are the consequences of not understanding the relationships and probabilities they express? From sports to stocks, lotteries to political polls and elections, Paulos provides an enlightening—and entertaining—course in the costs of innumeracy.


The Math Book

By Clifford Pickover

From Archimedes’s Spiral to Rubik’s Cube, with stops along a timeline of insight and discovery that stretches across millennia, this anthology charts 250 milestones in mathematical history. Topics include the discovery of pi and the calculus, the butterfly effect, cryptography, key formulas and concepts, and much more—all illustrated with art, diagrams, and photos.


A Mathematician’s Lament

By Paul Lockhart

“If I had to design a mechanism for the express purpose of destroying a child’s natural curiosity and love of pattern-making, I couldn’t possibly do as good a job as is currently being done—I simply wouldn’t have the imagination to come up with the kind of senseless, soul-crushing ideas that constitute contemporary mathematics education.” Does math class have to be “stupid and boring”? Lockhart, a research mathematician who has devoted his career to teaching K-12 level kids, doesn’t think so, and passionately explains why.


One Hundred Essential Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know: Math Explains Your World

By John D. Barrow

Why six degrees of separation and not seven? Noted cosmologist Barrow uses math to illuminate conundrums buried in everyday experience, and manages to uncover the speculative delights of mathematics itself. In a series of brief and engaging essays, he employs aspects of algebra, trigonometry, and calculus as, alternately, telescopes and microscopes to reveal clever perspectives on reality.


The Education of T. C. Mits

By Lillian R. Lieber

A wonderful excursion into the realm of the mathematical imagination in the company of T. C. Mits—better known to all of us as The Celebrated Man in the Street. First published more than six decades ago, Lillian Lieber’s whimsical survey of topics from the commutative law to multiplication to Einstein’s theory of relativity is a wise and witty gem.