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Pi: A Biography of the World's Most Mysterious Numberby Alfred Posamentier
Synopses & Reviews
We all learned that the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is called pi and that the value of this algebraic symbol is roughly 3.14. What we weren't told, though, is that behind this seemingly mundane fact is a world of mystery, which has fascinated mathematicians from ancient times to the present. Simply put, pi is weird. Mathematicians call it a "transcendental number" because its value cannot be calculated by any combination of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and square root extraction.
In this delightful layperson's introduction to one of math's most interesting phenomena, Drs. Posamentier and Lehmann review pi's history from prebiblical times to the 21st century, the many amusing and mind-boggling ways of estimating pi over the centuries, quirky examples of obsessing about pi (including an attempt to legislate its exact value), and useful applications of pi in everyday life, including statistics.
This enlightening and stimulating approach to mathematics will entertain lay readers while improving their mathematical literacy.
Book News Annotation:
It is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, a transcendental number, and to some people, an obsession. Posamentier (mathematics education, City College, CUNY) and Lehmann (mathematics, Humboldt U., Berlin) examine how pi has been an object of fascination from the Old Testament, through an act proposed in Indiana in 1897 setting its value, to a recent experiment with a supercomputer that netted a total of 1.24 trillion numbers to the right of the decimal point. Along the way they show how pi actually works according to Cusanus, Rumanujan, and even Wankel. The epilog contains pi expressed in 100,000 decimal places for the reader's enjoyment.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In this delightful layperson's introduction to one of math's most interesting phenomena, the authors review pi's history from pre-biblical times to the 21st century.
About the Author
Alfred S. Posamentier (River Vale, NJ) is the dean of the School of Education and professor of mathematics education at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY. He has published over fifty books in the area of mathematics and mathematics education, including The Pythagorean Theorem; Math Charmers; and (with Ingmar Lehmann) The Glorious Golden Ratio; Mathematical Amazements and Surprises; The Fabulous Fibonacci Numbers; and Pi: A Biography of the World's Most Mysterious Number.
Ingmar Lehmann (Berlin, Germany) is on the mathematics faculty at Humboldt University in Berlin. He also heads the Berlin Mathematics Student Society for gifted secondary school students. A prolific author of books on mathematics and mathematics education, he is the coauthor with Alfred S. Posamentier of The Glorious Golden Ratio; Mathematical Amazements and Surprises; The Fabulous Fibonacci Numbers; and Pi: A Biography of the World's Most Mysterious Number.
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