Foolproof, and Other Mathematical Meditations

Foolproof, and Other Mathematical Meditations

by Brian Hayes

Paperback(Reprint)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262536073
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 10/30/2018
Series: The MIT Press
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 248
Sales rank: 352,970
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Brian Hayes is Senior Contributing Writer at American Scientist. His writing has appeared in Scientific American, The Sciences, Wired, the New York Times Book Review, the New Republic, and other publications.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 Young Gauss Sums It Up: A schoolboy's triumph over a harsh teacher becomes the stuff of legend 1

2 Outside the Law of Averages: Not just above average but beyond the reach of all averages 19

3 How to Avoid Yourself: Taking a walk without crossing your own path leads into curious byways 33

4 The Spectrum of Riemannium: An unexpected connection between nuclear physics and prime numbers 53

5 Unwed Numbers: In Sudoku "No math is required," but there's plenty behind the scenes 71

6 Crinkly Curves: A scribbled line grows so twisty that it touches every point on a plane 85

7 Wagering with Zeno: You can't win, you can't lose, you can't tie, and the game never ends 99

8 The Higher Arithmetic: New tools for doing arithmetic with enormous numbers 113

9 First Links in the Markov Chain: A crucial innovation in probability began with an analysis of poetry 127

10 Playing Ball in the nth Dimension: Spheres in a space of many dimensions seem to shrink away to nothing 141

11 Quasirandom Ramblings: Somewhere between the chaotic and the orderly lies the quasirandom 155

12 Pencil, Paper, and Pi: Forensic mathematics investigates a heroic computation that went awry 171

13 Foolproof: Is proof a magic wand that works only in the hands of wizards? 187

Sources and Resources 205

References 209

Index 225

What People are Saying About This

Steven Strogatz

Brian Hayes takes us with him as he roams far and wide across the mathematical landscape. Whether he's braving the borderlands of the latest research or poking around in some forgotten corner of history, his chronicles of what he finds there are consistently captivating and revelatory.

James Propp

With a journalist's instinct for story, a mathematician's concern for accuracy, and a storyteller's sense of narrative, Brian Hayes lets the general reader in on a secret mathematicians already know: math is fun! His vignettes are like the snapshots of a returned traveler, showing us exotic lands and the marvelous creatures that live there. Foolproof shows that the mathematical enterprise is one of high adventure.

From the Publisher

Each of these essays brings unexpected twists of perception and presentation; what a fine imagination Hayes has! I enjoyed the book enormously.

Nick Trefethen FRS, Professor of Numerical Analysis, University of Oxford; creator of Chebfun; author of Trefethen's Index Cards

Brian Hayes takes us with him as he roams far and wide across the mathematical landscape. Whether he's braving the borderlands of the latest research or poking around in some forgotten corner of history, his chronicles of what he finds there are consistently captivating and revelatory.

Steven Strogatz, Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics, Cornell University; author of The Joy of x

With a journalist's instinct for story, a mathematician's concern for accuracy, and a storyteller's sense of narrative, Brian Hayes lets the general reader in on a secret mathematicians already know: math is fun! His vignettes are like the snapshots of a returned traveler, showing us exotic lands and the marvelous creatures that live there. Foolproof shows that the mathematical enterprise is one of high adventure.

James Propp, Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Endorsement

With a journalist's instinct for story, a mathematician's concern for accuracy, and a storyteller's sense of narrative, Brian Hayes lets the general reader in on a secret mathematicians already know: math is fun! His vignettes are like the snapshots of a returned traveler, showing us exotic lands and the marvelous creatures that live there. Foolproof shows that the mathematical enterprise is one of high adventure.

James Propp, Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Nick Trefethen FRS

Each of these essays brings unexpected twists of perception and presentation; what a fine imagination Hayes has! I enjoyed the book enormously.

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