Synopses & Reviews
What two things could be more different than numbers and stories? Numbers are abstract, certain, and eternal, but to most of us somewhat dry and bloodless. Good stories are full of life: they engage our emotions and have subtlety and nuance, but they lack rigor and the truths they tell are elusive and subject to debate. As ways of understanding the world around us, numbers and stories seem almost completely incompatible.Once Upon a Number shows that stories and numbers arent as different as you might imagine, and in fact they have surprising and fascinating connections. The concepts of logic and probability both grew out of intuitive ideas about how certain situations would play out. Now, logicians are inventing ways to deal with real world situations by mathematical meansby acknowledging, for instance, that items that are mathematically interchangeable may not be interchangeable in a story. And complexity theory looks at both number strings and narrative strings in remarkably similar terms.Throughout, renowned author John Paulos mixes numbers and narratives in his own delightful style. Along with lucid accounts of cutting-edge information theory we get hilarious anecdotes and jokes; instructions for running a truly impressive pyramid scam; a freewheeling conversation between Groucho Marx and Bertrand Russell (while theyre stuck in an elevator together); explanations of why the statistical evidence against OJ Simpson was overwhelming beyond doubt and how the Unabombers thinking shows signs of mathematical training; and dozens of other treats. This is another winner from Americas favorite mathematician.
Synopsis
What could be more different than numbers and stories? Numbers are abstract and certain, but to most of us dry and bloodless. Good stories engage our emotions, but lack rigor and offer debatable truths. In Once Upon a Number, America's favorite mathematician demonstrates that stories and numbers are more similar than we think. In the press, John Allen Paulos makes complex mathematical concepts accessible and enjoyable for the layperson.
Paulos's anecdotes and witty observations close the gap between deduction and induction".' He shows how logic and probability grew out of intuitive ideas about how certain situations would play out. He discusses how logicians are inventing ways to deal with real-world situations by mathematical means -- by acknowledging, for example, that items that are mathematically interchangeable may not be interchangeable in a story.
In his trademark style, Paulos intercuts cutting-edge information theory with hilarious and intriguing asides: instructions for running an impressive pyramid scam; a freewheeling conversation between Groucho Marx and Bertrand Russell; explanations of why the statistical evidence against O.J. Simpson was overwhelming; how the Unabomber's thinking shows signs of mathematical training; and dozens of other treats.
Synopsis
In his well-known style, full of anecdotes and witty observations, Americas favorite mathematician takes on our two most basic ways of representing informationnarratives and numbersshowing the surprising things they have in common.
Description
Includes bibliographical references (p. [203]-205) and index.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Between stories and statistics -- Between subjective viewpoint and impersonal probability -- Between informal discourse and logic -- Between meaning and information -- Bridging the gap.