Synopses & Reviews
A world-class mathematician and regular contributor to the New York Times
hosts a delightful tour of the greatest ideas of math, revealing how it connects to literature, philosophy, law, medicine, art, business, even pop culture in ways we never imagined
Did O.J. do it? How should you flip your mattress to get the maximum wear out of it? How does Google search the Internet? How many people should you date before settling down? Believe it or not, math plays a crucial role in answering all of these questions and more.
Math underpins everything in the cosmos, including us, yet too few of us understand this universal language well enough to revel in its wisdom, its beauty and#8212; and its joy. This deeply enlightening, vastly entertaining volume translates math in a way that is at once intelligible and thrilling. Each trenchant chapter of The Joy ofand#160;x offers an and#8220;aha!and#8221; moment, starting with why numbers are so helpful, and progressing through the wondrous truths implicit in and#960;, the Pythagorean theorem, irrational numbers, fat tails, even the rigors and surprising charms of calculus. Showing why he has won awards as a professor at Cornell and garnered extensive praise for his articles about math for the New York Times, Strogatz presumes of his readers only curiosity and common sense. And he rewards them with clear, ingenious, and often funny explanations of the most vital and exciting principles of his discipline.
Whether you aced integral calculus or arenand#8217;t sure what an integer is, youand#8217;ll find profound wisdom and persistent delight in The Joy of x.
"A 1954 classic that continues to dispel false beliefs and inform the
statistically naive. Huff's direct and witty style exposes how
advertisers, government and the media mislead their audiences through
the misuse of statistics. Huff then explains how the reader can see
through the smoke and mirrors to get to the real meaning if any
of what is presented."
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
"This book needed to be written, and makes its points in an entertaining, highly readable manner." Management Review
"A pleasantly subversive little book, guaranteed to undermine your faith in the almighty statistic." The Atlantic
"Illustrator and author pool their considerable talents to provide light lively reading and cartoons which will entertain, really inform, and take the wind out of many an overblown statistical sail." Library Journal
"" Management Review
"A delightful exploration of the beauty and fun of mathematics, in the best tradition of Lewis Carroll, George Gamow, and Martin Gardner. The Joy ofand#160;x
will entertain you, amaze you, and make you smarter."
and#8212; Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Language Instinct
"Steven Strogatz should do for math what Julia Child did for cookery. He shows that this stuff really matters, and he shows that it can nourish us."
and#8212; James Gleick, author of The Information: A History, a Theory, aand#160;Floodand#160;and Chaos
"This joyous book will remind you just how beautiful and mesmerizing math can be. Steve Strogatz is the teacher we all wish we had."
and#8212; Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein
"I loved this beautiful book from the first page. With his unique ingenuity and affable charm, Strogatz disassembles mathematics as a subject, both feared and revered, and reassembles it as a world, both accessible and magical. The Joy ofand#160;x is, well, a joy."
and#8212; Janna Levin, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Barnard College, Columbia University, and author of How the Universe Got Its Spots and A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines
"Amazingly, mathematicians can see patterns in the universe that the rest of us are usually blind to. With clarity and dry wit, The Joy ofand#160;x opens a window onto this hidden world with its landscapes of beauty and wonder."
and#8212; Alan Alda
"This book is, simply put, fantastic. It introduces the reader to the underlying concepts of mathematics and#8212; presenting reasons for its unfamiliar language and explaining conceptual frameworks that do in fact make understanding complex problems easier. In a world where mathematics is essential but, largely, poorly understood, Steve Strogatz's teaching skills and deft writing style are an important contribution."
and#8212; Lisa Randall, Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science, Harvard University, and author of Warped Passages and Knocking on Heaven's Door
"Strogatz has discovered a magical function that transforms 'math' into 'joy,' page after wonderful page. He takes everything that every mystified you about math and makes it better than clear and#8212; he makes it wondrous, delicious, and amazing."
and#8212; Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of Stumbling on Happiness
"Strogatz may be the only person alive with the skill to pied piper me into the murky abyss of set theory. I literally learned something on every page, despite my innumerate brain. This is a fantastic book, conveyed with clarity, technical mastery, and infectious joy."
and#8212; Jad Abumrad, host of Radiolab
"Strogatz's graceful prose is perfectly pitched for a popular math book: authoritative without being patronizing, friendly without being whimsical, and always clear and accessible. His x marks the spot and#8212; and hits it."
and#8212; Alex Bellos, author of Here's Looking at Euclid
and#160; "Even the most math-phobic readers might forget their dread after just a few pages of Strogatzand#8217;s (The Calculus of Friendship) latest. The author, a Cornell professor of applied mathematics, begins with arithmetic, by way of Sesame Street, then explores algebra, geometry, and, finally, the wonders of calculusand#8212;all done cheerfully, with many a wry turn of phrase. From addition and subtraction, with a glimpse into negative numbers and 'the black art of borrowing,' itand#8217;s a quick step into the hardcore detective work of algebraand#8217;s search for the unknown x, with algorithms like the quadratic equation, 'the Rodney Dangerfield of algebra' ('it donand#8217;t get no respect'). Strogatz rhapsodizes over geometry, which he sees as a marriage of logic and intuition that teaches how to build arguments, step by rigorous step, and geometryand#8217;s 'loosey-goosey' offshoot, topology. Brisk chapters on prime numbers, basic statistics, and probability are all enlightening without being intimidating. Most impressive is Strogatzand#8217;s coverage of calculus, the math used to figure out everything from how fast epidemics spread to the trajectory of a curveball. Readers will appreciate this lighthearted and thoroughly entertaining book."
and#8212; Publishers Weekly
"Strogatz, an applied mathematician at Cornell University and author of Sync, has compiled his immensely popular series of New York Times columns and added new material. The Joy of X's six parts, each divided into several short chapters, move from number basics through algebra, geometry, calculus and statistics to the frontiers of math, where conjectures about prime numbers are still floating around unsolved. The goal is a second chance at learning the math that might have passed you byand#8212;this time from an adult perspective. The tone is light and conversational, with delightful narratives about lonely numbers and the Tony Soprano psyche of math itselfand#8212;outwardly tough but inwardly wracked with insecurity. The easily digestible chapters include plenty of helpful examples and illustrations. You'll never forget the Pythagorean theorem again!"
"A great introduction to the use of statistics, and a great refresher for anyone who's already well versed in it." Bill Gates
Darrell Huff runs the gamut of every popularly used type of statistic, probes such things as the sample study, the tabulation method, the interview technique, or the way the results are derived from the figures, and points up the countless number of dodges which are used to full rather than to inform.
Mr. Huff's lively, human-interest treatment of the dry-as-bones subject of statistics is a timely tonic. . . . This book needed to be written, and makes its points in an entertaining and highly readable manner.Illustrator and author pool their considerable talents to provide light lively reading and cartoon far which will entertain, really inform, and take the wind out of many an overblown statistical sail.A pleasantly subversive little book, Guaranteed to undermine your faith in the almighty statistic.
Classic text focuses on everyday applications as well as those of scientific research. Minimal mathematical background necessary. Includes lively examples from business, government, and other fields. "Fascinating." — The New York Times. 1962 edition.
Focusing on everyday applications as well as those of scientific research, this classic of modern statistical methods requires little to no mathematical background. Readers develop basic skills for evaluating and using statistical data. Lively, relevant examples include applications to business, government, social and physical sciences, genetics, medicine, and public health.
"W. Allen Wallis and Harry V. Roberts have made statistics fascinating." — The New York Times
"The authors have set out with considerable success, to write a text which would be of interest and value to the student who, not concerned primarily with statistical technics, must understand the nature and methodology of the subject in order to make proper use of its results." — American Journal of Public Health and the Nation's Health
"This book is a distinct and important contribution to the text literature in statistics for social scientists and should be given careful consideration by sociologists." — American Sociological Review.
Over Half a Million Copies Sold--an Honest-to-Goodness Bestseller
A delightful tour of the greatest ideas of math, showing how math intersects withand#160;philosophy, science, art, business, current events, and everyday life, by an acclaimed science communicator and regular contributor to the New York Times.
About the Author
Economist and statistician W. Allen Wallis (1912-98) was Dean of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and President and Chancellor of the University of Rochester. An advisor to four U.S. presidents, he also served as President of the American Statistical Association and as Chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.Statistician and educator Harry V. Roberts (1923-2004) was Sigmund E. Edelstone Professor Emeritus of Statistics and Quality Management at the University of Chicago Graduate School, where he was associated for more than 40 years. A pioneer in the application of Bayesian statistics to business decision making, he was involved in the development of computer methods for statistical analysis.
Table of Contents
From Fish to Infinityand#8195;3
An introduction to numbers, pointing out their upsides (theyand#8217;re efficient) as well as their downsides (theyand#8217;re ethereal)
Treating numbers concretelyand#8212;think rocksand#8212;can make calculations less baffling.
The Enemy of My Enemyand#8195;15
The disturbing concept of subtraction, and how we deal with the fact that negative numbers seem so .and#160;.and#160;. negative
When you buy jeans on sale, do you save more money if the clerk applies the discount after the tax, or before?
Division and Its Discontentsand#8195;29
Helping Verizon grasp the difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents
Location, Location, Locationand#8195;35
How the place-value system for writing numbers brought arithmetic to the masses
The Joy of xand#8195;45
Arithmetic becomes algebra when we begin working with unknowns and formulas.
Finding Your Rootsand#8195;51
Complex numbers, a hybrid of the imaginary and the real, are the pinnacle of number systems.
My Tub Runneth Overand#8195;59
Turning peril to pleasure in word problems
Working Your Quadsand#8195;67
The quadratic formula may never win any beauty contests, but the ideas behind it are ravishing.
In math, the function of functions is to transform.
Geometry, intuition, and the long road from Pythagoras to Einstein
Something from Nothingand#8195;93
Like any other creative act, constructing a proof begins with inspiration.
The Conic Conspiracyand#8195;101
The uncanny similarities between parabolas and ellipses suggest hidden forces at work.
Sine Qua Nonand#8195;113
Sine waves everywhere, from Ferris wheels to zebra stripes
Take It to the Limitand#8195;121
Archimedes recognized the power of the infinite and in the process laid the groundwork for calculus.
Change We Can Believe Inand#8195;131
Differential calculus can show you the best path from A to B, and Michael Jordanand#8217;s dunks help explain why.
It Slices, It Dicesand#8195;139
The lasting legacy of integral calculus is a Veg-O-Matic view of the universe.
All about eand#8195;147
How many people should you date before settling down? Your grandmother knowsand#8212;and so does the number e.
Loves Me, Loves Me Notand#8195;155
Differential equations made sense of planetary motion. But the course of true love? Now thatand#8217;s confusing.
Step Into the Lightand#8195;161
A light beam is a pas de deux of electric and magnetic fields, and vector calculus is its choreographer.
The New Normaland#8195;175
Bell curves are out. Fat tails are in.
The improbable thrills of probability theory
Untangling the Weband#8195;191
How Google solved the Zen riddle of Internet search using linear algebra
The Loneliest Numbersand#8195;201
Prime numbers, solitary and inscrutable, space themselves apart in mysterious ways.
Group theory, one of the most versatile parts of math, bridges art and science.
Twist and Shoutand#8195;219
Playing with Mand#246;bius strips and music boxes, and a better way to cut a bagel
Differential geometry reveals the shortest route between two points on a globe or any other curved surface.
Why calculus, once so smug and cocky, had to put itself on the couch
The Hilbert Hoteland#8195;249
An exploration of infinity as this book, not being infinite, comes to an end