Numbers

The powers and pleasures of mathematics.


Big Data – A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

By Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Cukier

The usage of number crunching to calculate our desires has never been so prevalent as it is in today.  Using what analysts Mayer-Schonberger and Cukier have dubbed “big data,” scientists can today predict the paint color of a well-maintained used car, identify a city’s manholes most likely to explode, and even use Google searches to predict the spread of deadly flu outbreaks.  The algorithms upon which our modern world is built are demystified within, by those using practical mathematics to enrich the connectivity and capability of our society.


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’ 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.


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.