- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Why is math so hard? And why, despite this difficulty, are some people so good at it? If there’s some inborn capacity for mathematical thinking—which there must be, otherwise no one could do it —why can’t we all do it well? Keith Devlin has answers to all these difficult questions, and in giving them shows us how mathematical ability evolved, why it’s a part of language ability, and how we can make better use of this innate talent.He also offers a breathtakingly new theory of language development—that language ...
Why is math so hard? And why, despite this difficulty, are some people so good at it? If there’s some inborn capacity for mathematical thinking—which there must be, otherwise no one could do it —why can’t we all do it well? Keith Devlin has answers to all these difficult questions, and in giving them shows us how mathematical ability evolved, why it’s a part of language ability, and how we can make better use of this innate talent.He also offers a breathtakingly new theory of language development—that language evolved in two stages, and its main purpose was not communication—to show that the ability to think mathematically arose out of the same symbol-manipulating ability that was so crucial to the emergence of true language. Why, then, can’t we do math as well as we can speak? The answer, says Devlin, is that we can and do—we just don’t recognize when we’re using mathematical reasoning.
|List of Illustrations||vii|
|Prologue: The Wings of the Eagle||xiii|
|1||A Mind for Mathematics||1|
|2||In the Beginning Is Number||15|
|4||What Is This Thing Called Mathematics?||71|
|5||Do Mathematicians Have Different Brains?||111|
|6||Born to Speak||145|
|7||The Brain That Grew and Learned to Talk||169|
|8||Out of Our Minds||195|
|9||Where Demons Lurk and Mathematicians Work||249|
|10||Roads Not Taken||283|
|Epilogue: How to Sell Soap||293|
|Appendix||The Hidden Structure of Everyday Language||297|
As a writer of popular science books on mathematics, I also read all the books by "my competition" to keep abreast of this small but growing field. (It will really be a field when universities establish professorial positions in the public understanding of mathematics. I shall probably apply for the first one.) The books that turned me on to mathematics as a teenager look very dated today. Although mathematical knowledge is unique in that, once established, a mathematical fact remains forever part of the accepted truth, nevertheless, both the kinds of mathematics that is done and the ways of approaching and presenting that mathematics change over time. The mathematics books I recommend to my nonmathematical friends these days include The Mathematical Experience by Davis and Hersh, Journey Through Genius by William Dunham, and Nature's Numbers by Ian Stewart, all written by professional mathematicians with a flair for the written word. Former science television writer Simon Singh's book Fermat's Enigma gives a good sense of what modern mathematical research is like and why some people choose to devote their lives to it. Another book by a nonmathematician that I like and often recommend to others is Against the Gods by Peter L. Bernstein, which shows how the mathematical theory of probability underpins much of modern society.
Posted August 29, 2002
I bought this book because it was to discuss why some people have a harder time doing math than others. Why do mathematicians find math so easy while the rest of us seem to struggle? While the book doesn't discuss much about an actual math 'gene' it does discuss evolutionary ideas about how humans developed a more complex ability to do mathematics than other species. While some of the reasoning may be pure conjecture, the ideas presented are thoroughly fascinating and well worth the read. Devlin also refers to the development of mathematical ability in children which is equally interesting for parents of young children.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.