Do I Count?: Stories from Mathematics

Do I Count?: Stories from Mathematics

by Gunter M. Ziegler

The subject of mathematics is not something distant, strange, and abstract that you can only learn about—and often dislike—in school. It is in everyday situations, such as housekeeping, communications, traffic, and weather reports. Taking you on a trip into the world of mathematics, Do I Count? Stories from Mathematics describes in a clear and

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The subject of mathematics is not something distant, strange, and abstract that you can only learn about—and often dislike—in school. It is in everyday situations, such as housekeeping, communications, traffic, and weather reports. Taking you on a trip into the world of mathematics, Do I Count? Stories from Mathematics describes in a clear and captivating way the people behind the numbers and the places where mathematics is made.

Written by top scientist and engaging storyteller Günter M. Ziegler and translated by Thomas von Foerster, the book presents mathematics and mathematicians in a manner that you have not previously encountered. It guides you on a scenic tour through the field, pointing out which beds were useful in constructing which theorems and which notebooks list the prizes for solving particular problems. Forgoing esoteric areas, the text relates mathematics to celebrities, history, travel, politics, science and technology, weather, clever puzzles, and the future.

  • Can bees count?
  • Is 13 bad luck?
  • Are there equations for everything?
  • What’s the real practical value of the Pythagorean Theorem?
  • Are there Sudoku puzzles with fewer than 17 entries and just one solution?
  • Where and how do mathematicians work?
  • Who invented proofs and why do we need them?
  • Why is there no Nobel Prize for mathematics?
  • What kind of life did Paul Erdős lead?

Find out the answers to these and other questions in this entertaining book of stories. You’ll see that everyone counts, but no computation is needed.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The writing is quick-witted, entertaining, and easy to read."
Zentralblatt MATH 1285

"Rarely does one find a good general interest math book. This book, a collection of brief, fascinating, stand-alone essays, is the exception; it should be in libraries and bookstores everywhere. … an absolute delight and a significant contribution to mathematical literature for general readers and mathematicians. Summing Up: Essential. All library collections."
—W.R. Lee, CHOICE, May 2014

"It is good to find a section in the book where several occasions of misuse of mathematics are explained. In the second half of the book, the focus of the author slowly shifts from the discipline itself to where and how it is done and who are the people in mathematics. … the way that Ziegler describes this is still interesting to read. From the philosophical perspective, the most interesting part of the book is the one discussing the nature of computer proofs: can we trust them? … after reading the book, all of us, mathematicians and nonmathematicians, understand that we do actually know a lot more math than we thought. However, it will never be too much."
—Peeter Müürsepp, Mathematical Reviews, March 2014

"This is a wonderful book, by a strong research mathematician at the Free University of Berlin, about what it means ‘to do mathematics.’ … a pleasant and worthwhile read for all who do mathematics."
—Robert E. O’Malley, Jr., SIAM Review

"Do I Count? is packed full of thought-provoking stories exploring the concept and purpose of numbers. … children grow up not realising that mathematics has similarly been discovered and was not ‘always there,’ and that therefore that there is still more mathematics out there waiting to be revealed. Ziegler seeks to remedy this misconception. Many historical mathematicians are mentioned … . Alongside the history there are examples of mathematical problems that have recently been solved and others that are currently being worked on. This all gives the reader an insight into the variety of mathematics that is out there."
—Noel-Ann Bradshaw, LMS Newsletter, February 2014

"This very enjoyable book is informative on so many levels for specialists and non-specialists alike."
—Peter Ruane, MAA Reviews, October 2013

"In 2008, Günter M. Ziegler won Germany’s highest distinction for the communication of science to the general public, the Communicator Award. The award panel honoured a young and outstanding mathematician for his special ability to communicate results in his field in a fresh and innovative way. His new book, Do I Count?, reaffirms this ability to reveal the central role and beauty of mathematics, and provides excellent and inspiring reading."
—Dr. Eva-Maria Streier, Director New York Office, German Research Foundation (DFG)

"In a book filled with humor, fascinating stories, and graceful and imaginative writing, Günter Ziegler unlocks the secrets of what mathematicians do and how they go about doing it. Along the way, he touches on the making of mathematics as an analogue of the making of love, and talks about such things as number superstitions, prime numbers old and new, interesting mathematical characters dead and alive, and some intriguing mathematical questions, questions that can be understood by virtually anyone, but which mathematicians are still trying to answer. This is a book that everyone can enjoy—from someone who failed high school geometry to the practicing mathematician. Ziegler’s knowledge about the ins and outs of mathematics is inexhaustible."
—Jacob E. Goodman, Founding Editor, Discrete & Computational Geometry

"For Ziegler, it’s a fact that doing math is a tough, sometimes dirty, business, but also brings incredible amounts of fun."
Der Tagesspiegel

"… [the author] succeeds, in his own way, to give an idea of what drives mathematicians, what fascinates them, and where they develop their research. The portraits of colleagues whom he knows personally and whom he describes engagingly and animatedly contribute to this substantially."
—Wolfgang Blum, Sueddeutsche Zeitung

"‘Caution, formulas,’ Ziegler warns us and advises not to take everything that’s expressed as a formula as true, rather, to cheerfully and carefully look for errors. This book invites the reader to look at numbers skeptically, examine statistics carefully, and check over other people’s calculations. The author offers this encouragement, ‘We can’t all be below average in mathematics.’"
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"Many consider mathematics as difficult. But it is precisely that which makes it interesting for Günter Ziegler, professor of mathematics and recipient of many awards, … who is here starting a ‘charm offensive’ for his discipline. His blazing argument for the field is spiced with anecdotes and true stories, bringing to the fore its multiplicity and the variety of the people who devote themselves to it."

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Product Details

Taylor & Francis
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6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

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