The Best Writing on Mathematics 2013

Overview

This annual anthology brings together the year's finest mathematics writing from around the world. Featuring promising new voices alongside some of the foremost names in the field, The Best Writing on Mathematics 2013 makes available to a wide audience many articles not easily found anywhere else—and you don't need to be a mathematician to enjoy them. These writings offer surprising insights into the nature, meaning, and practice of mathematics today. They delve into the history, philosophy, teaching, and ...

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The Best Writing on Mathematics 2013

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Overview

This annual anthology brings together the year's finest mathematics writing from around the world. Featuring promising new voices alongside some of the foremost names in the field, The Best Writing on Mathematics 2013 makes available to a wide audience many articles not easily found anywhere else—and you don't need to be a mathematician to enjoy them. These writings offer surprising insights into the nature, meaning, and practice of mathematics today. They delve into the history, philosophy, teaching, and everyday occurrences of math, and take readers behind the scenes of today's hottest mathematical debates. Here Philip Davis offers a panoramic view of mathematics in contemporary society; Terence Tao discusses aspects of universal mathematical laws in complex systems; Ian Stewart explains how in mathematics everything arises out of nothing; Erin Maloney and Sian Beilock consider the mathematical anxiety experienced by many students and suggest effective remedies; Elie Ayache argues that exchange prices reached in open market transactions transcend the common notion of probability; and much, much more.

In addition to presenting the year's most memorable writings on mathematics, this must-have anthology includes a foreword by esteemed mathematical physicist Roger Penrose and an introduction by the editor, Mircea Pitici. This book belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in where math has taken us—and where it is headed.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
02/10/2014
The fourth volume in this unique annual anthology offers plenty to interest even the most math-phobic of readers. Pitici, who teaches mathematics and writing at Cornell University, has selected 20 essays that run the gamut from biology and social networking to topology and market contingency, with the focus on how math can be used to reveal new insights into real world events. Randomness is the theme of several articles, including Donald Knuth's exploration of how randomness enhances music, Soren Johnson's look at the use of "luck" and randomness in video game design, and Charles Seife's claim that the human brain's in-built need to identify patterns also makes it difficult for us to deal with randomness. Mathematics' aesthetic role is also explored, as Kelly Delp's "High Fashion Meets Higher Mathematics" offers a fascinating look into how topology helped designers at Issey Miyake create new looks, while Daniel Silver explores the ways painter and printmaker Albrecht Dürer used math in his art. Pitici has assembled a marvelously varied collection of essays and articles which show that math may begin inside an ivory tower, but it comes to rich and vivid life in the real world. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"A marvelous selection of papers about mathematics written by the best. . . . Highly recommended to all with a broad interest in science, history, art, education, philosophy . . . which is almost anybody."—A. Bultheel, European Mathematical Society Reviews

"In addition to presenting the year's most memorable writings on mathematics, this must-have anthology includes a foreword by esteemed physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson. This book belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in where math has taken us—and where it is headed."World Book Industry

"These selections provide a sampling of the state of the art through topics ranging from math anxiety to modern applications to the history of mathematics. With great emphasis on the interactions of mathematics with modern civilization, the arts, and philosophy, these articles can be a source of intellectual stimulation for educated lay readers and will provide, for working mathematicians or scientists, exposure to parts of the subject outside of their research range. . . . A well-chosen collection supplemented by an outstanding bibliography of suggested further reading."—Harold D. Shane, Library Journal

"[T]his is a marvelous selection of papers about mathematics written by the best. They do not draw the reader into the mathematical jargon that is only of interest to the mathematical literate. In fact practically no mathematics is needed and formulas are almost completely absent. It is the best possible way of communicating mathematics to the non-mathematician and even the ones suffering from mathematical anxiety will enjoy reading the booklet. Of course this is only a relatively small selection but for the reader longing for more, Pitici gives in his introduction an even longer list of books, papers, websites and blogs that are equally worth reading. Pitici did once more an excellent job, and the result is highly recommended to all with a broad interest in science, history, art, education, philosophy . . . which is almost anybody."—A. Bultheel, European Mathematical Society

"The list of titles of the essays reprinted in this volume would be almost enough to persuade many people that they will enjoy reading it, and indeed that they could profitably put it in front of anyone who wants to know what mathematics is about. It's a partial and selective picture, of course, but it's fresh, varied, and as its title might suggest, well written."—Jeremy Gray, LMS Newsletter

"Most of the articles presented here are entertaining and enlightening, and the book should be recommended to everyone interested in mathematics."Zentralblatt MATH

Praise for Princeton's previous editions: [A] volume of unexpectedly fascinating mathematical research, musings, and studies that explore subjects from art to medicine. . . . [R]eaders from many disciplines will find much to pique their interest."Publishers Weekly

Praise for Princeton's previous editions: Entertaining and informative."—Ian D. Gordon, Library Journal

Praise for Princeton's previous editions: Wonderful. . . . [C]annot be recommended highly enough!"—Robert Schaefer, New York Journal of Books

Praise for Princeton's previous editions: A wonderful and varied bouquet of texts. . . . I highly recommend this book to everyone with an interest in mathematics."—Stephen Buckley, Irish Mathematical Society Bulletin

Library Journal
02/15/2014
While most papers published each year on mathematics and its applications appear in highly technical journals, a surprising number are expository in nature and can be found in newspapers and magazines aimed at general readers. However, it's difficult for even the most dedicated person to read even a fraction of them. Thus, for the fourth time, editor Pitici (PhD candidate, math education, Cornell Univ.) does us the service of choosing 20 of the most interesting nontechnical articles published in the previous year. These selections provide a sampling of the state of the art through topics ranging from math anxiety to modern applications to the history of mathematics. With great emphasis on the interactions of mathematics with modern civilization, the arts, and philosophy, these articles can be a source of intellectual stimulation for educated lay readers and will provide, for working mathematicians or scientists, exposure to parts of the subject outside of their research range. VERDICT A well-chosen collection supplemented by an outstanding bibliography of suggested further reading.—Harold D. Shane, mathematics, emeritus, Baruch Coll., CUNY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691160412
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 1/19/2014
  • Series: Best Writing on Mathematics Series
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 625,743
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Mircea Pitici teaches mathematics and writing at Cornell University, where he is a PhD candidate in math education. He has edited "The Best Writing on Mathematics" since 2010.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Roger Penrose ix
Introduction Mircea Pitici xv
The Prospects for Mathematics in a Multimedia Civilization Philip J. Davis 1
Fearful Symmetry Ian Stewart 23
E pluribus unum: From Complexity, Universality Terence Tao 32
Degrees of Separation Gregory Goth 47
Randomness Charles Seife 52
Randomness in Music Donald E. Knuth 56
Playing the Odds Soren Johnson 62
Machines of the Infinite John Pavlus 67
Bridges, String Art, and Bézier Curves Renan Gross 77
Slicing a Cone for Art and Science Daniel S. Silver 90
High Fashion Meets Higher Mathematics Kelly Delp 109
The Jordan Curve Theorem Is Nontrivial Fiona Ross and William T. Ross 120
Why Mathematics? What Mathematics? Anna Sfard 130
Math Anxiety: Who Has It, Why It Develops, and How to Guard against It Erin A. Maloney and Sian L. Beilock 143
How Old Are the Platonic Solids? David R. Lloyd 149
Early Modern Mathematical Instruments Jim Bennett 163
A Revolution in Mathematics? What Really Happened a Century Ago and Why It Matters Today Frank Quinn 175
Errors of Probability in Historical Context Prakash Gorroochurn 191
The End of Probability Elie Ayache 213
An abc Proof Too Tough Even for Mathematicians Kevin Hartnett 225
Contributors 231
Notable Texts 237
Acknowledgments 241
Credits 243

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