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Things To Make And Do In The Fourth Dimension (2014)

by Matt Parker(Favorite Author)
4.14 of 5 Votes: 3
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review 1: Matt Parker starts with the idea that many people don’t enjoy math because they’ve never been allowed to play around with it. In other disciplines, you learn the basics, but then are allowed to have some fun. You learn the basics of writing, and are then encouraged to write a story. You learn the basics of music, and then you can play songs with friends. For the most part, people’s experience with math isn’t the same. You’re forced to learn the basics, then…. nothing. It’s no wonder lots of people find it difficult to get enthusiastic about math. Parker sets out to remedy that by filling a book with ways to play with math. There are lots of neat tricks, jokes, and trivia, but he also tries to actually explain a lot of mathematical concepts. And he does it qui... morete well. I won’t claim to have understood everything presented, but I’m willing to admit that has more to do with my having years of avoiding math like the plague than Parker’s explanatory abilities. Even when I didn’t quite grasp the specifics of what was being discussed, Parker was able to provide a higher level explanation so I could at least get the gist of the topic. He does this while remaining funny and engaging throughout. Good stuff.
review 2: I'm very familiar with Matt Parker (aka @standupmaths) from his regular appearances in Numberphile videos on YouTube, so I had a fairly good idea about what to expect from this book (cheeky high-level maths fun). As many of us can attest, going into a book or movie with high expectations often leaves us feeling unfulfilled. And I have to say that I'm feeling unfulfilled ... but not for the usual reason.Matt explains what the book, and pure mathematics, is all about perfectly in his introduction:"Herein lies the secret of mathematics: it's one big game. Professional mathematicians are playing. This is the goal of this book: to open up this world and give you the freedom to play with maths. You too can feel like a premier-league mathematician, and if you were already one of those kids who embraced maths, there are still plenty of new things to discover."I am one the latter kids, though it took me until my mid-20s to really fall in love with mathematics, and I found a lifetime of maths topics to study within the 400+ pages in Things to Make and Do... . From number theory to graph theory to topology to abstract algebra, there is indeed a lot to do here. I was struck by the paradox described in the last chapter regarding infinity. I thought I was familiar with most of these puzzles about infinity, but Parker managed to find one I had never seen or thought of before. The result of this paradox leads into a brilliant introduction to the different types of infinity. And just like that, the book is over! But, I want more. I need to learn more!The book is very well written and organized; each chapter tries to build on the previous. I felt that chapter sixteen could have been presented a few chapters earlier, but it was a great break from the difficult ideas presented in the chapters that immediately preceded it. Make no mistake, there is some very high-level maths here. This isn't simply kids stuff. The abstract ideas are peppered with humor and historical background. The attention to history reminds me of Simon Singh's books (so much that I'm suspicious that he may have had a hand in producing this). I find myself wanting to learn more about a maths concept if I know a bit about the story of its origin (how and why it was discovered).If you don't like maths, give this book a chance to convert you. If you already love maths, you have to go deeper! I read a lot of good books in 2014, but this was my favorite. I can't wait to study more graph theory and topology and read this again. less
Reviews (see all)
tess622
I'm sooooo excited to read this! Thank you for sending me a copy so fast!
Drod
It had interesting topics but it just was not a book for me.
betty6738
Just won a copy of this book! seems so interesting !
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