Sunday, 16 January 2011

Maths 1001

It's 1001 things about maths, all of them explained in an average of around three paragraphs.  That simple.

Of course, anyone can do that.  The notable thing about Maths 1001 is the sheer force of clarity it's all presented with.  From the very basics of addition and multiplication, through geometry, discrete maths, probability, it's always explained in crystal clear, flowing english.  Metamathematics and mathematical physics also get an honourable mention, and the text is peppered with the historical curiosities behind the proofs and theorems.  If you want to be geeky about it, the comprehensivity / entertainment ratio is near optimal.

The range of the 1001 entries is spot on, a good mixture of the most important and the most interesting; you'll almost certainly find new gems in here unless you're a postgrad mathematician or beyond, and all for a penny short of fifteen pounds for a title that's pushing textbook size.

There's also something else that makes me love this book, and I'm afraid I'm going to have to lower the tone here.  There's a particular class of books that present short, snappy bites, and in no particular order.  They're books that are ideal for the water closet - the toilet, the smallest room in the house if you prefer.  "Books for bogtime" if you're British.  No serious reader will ever deny having favourite bog books, and I've just found another.

Maths 1001
Richard Elwes
ISBN: 9781848660632

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