Mathematical Elegance

Mathematical Elegance

An Approachable Guide to Understanding Basic Concepts

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ISBN: 978-1-4128-5464-1
Pages: 123
Binding: Hardcover
Publication Date: 12-19-2014
Also available as:
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The heart of mathematics is its elegance; the way it all fits together. Unfortunately, its beauty often eludes the vast majority of people who are intimidated by fear of the difficulty of numbers. Mathematical Elegance remedies this. Using hundreds of examples, the author presents a view of the mathematical landscape that is both accessible and fascinating.

At a time of concern that American youth are bored by math, there is renewed interest in improving math skills. Mathematical Elegance stimulates students, along with those already experienced in the discipline, to explore some of the unexpected pleasures of quantitative thinking. Invoking mathematical proofs famous for their simplicity and brainteasers that are fun and illuminating, the author leaves readers feeling exuberant—as well as convinced that their IQs have been raised by ten points.

A host of anecdotes about well-known mathematicians humanize and provide new insights into their lofty subjects. Recalling such classic works as Lewis Carroll’s Introduction to Logic and A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper by John Allen Paulos, Mathematical Elegance will energize and delight a wide audience, ranging from intellectually curious students to the enthusiastic general reader.

Editorial Reviews

"Explores quantitative thinking using mathematical proofs and anecdotes from well-known mathematicians. Discusses all that needs to be known; the lay of the land; why simple does not mean easy to do; gamesmanship; safe landings; believe it or not; science, math . . . and baseball; the case for logic; a short math miscellany and a final thought . . . ; and twenty-five of the world’s greatest brainteasers, plus two."

Journal of Economic Literature

“If I was to house a collection of books on mathematics for fun and learning on a shelf, this one would accompany John Allen Paulos' Innumeracy, and Stephen Gould's Full House, on the one side, and Lewis Carroll's Introduction to Logic, and Martin Gardner's Best Mathematical and Logical Puzzles, on the other. . . . This is a fun and readable book, but the fun really disguises a serious educational mission.”

—Howard Schneiderman, Lafayette College

“Ardent devotees of mathematics, as well as readers eager to understand more about today’s renewed focus on math, will turn again and again to this deft and accessible explanation of the world of numbers. Along with famous mathematical proofs, there are fascinating insights into the minds and lives of those who discovered them. Puzzle lovers can test their mettle with a collection of stimulating brainteasers that concludes a book that is an informative, delightful, fun read for everyone.”

—Ibtihaj Said Arafat, The City College of New York

“Among contemporary social scientists, the admirable Steven Goldberg is anomalous: unlike many of his peers, he believes that scholarship is, above all, for getting at the truth.”

—Paul Goss, author, Higher Superstition

“No person in American sociology is so well informed concerning the current fads and fashions in ideas among American intellectuals and semi-intellectuals. . . .Goldberg has emerged as a leading sociological logician. . . . The spirit of the great masters of sociological theory is in him.”

—Lewis Feuer, University of Virginia 

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Table of Contents



This Is All You Have to Know

Who Is Number One?

1     The Lay of the Land
2     Simple Does Not Mean Easy to Do
3     Gamesmanship 
4     Safe Landings
5     Believe It or Not
6     Science, Math . . . and Baseball
7     The Case for Logic
8     A Short Math Miscellany and a Final Thought . . .

Twenty-Five of the World’s Greatest Brainteasers, Plus Two