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Life by the Numbers
by Keith Devlin
ISBN 0471240443 / 9780471240440 / 0-471-24044-3
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Most of us think mathematics is about numbers and counting. That's just the basics, though, and Keith Devlin's companion book to the PBS series "Life by the Numbers" gives examples of the versatility of math as a tool for understanding just about everything. Devlin loves math--he calls it "one of the greatest creations of mankind" in a chapter entitled "It's an M World"--and he wants everyone to love it. He shows, through fascinating photos and examples, that mathematics is all around us, determining everything from the shape of a flower to how our CD players and insurance policies work. For the math-phobic, Life by the Numbers can be a reintroduction to a subject they may have mistakenly thought dry and boring. Forget about long division, we're talking about understanding virtual reality, leopard spots, and viruses. This book would be perfect to introduce a high-school student to some of the great careers available to mathematicians. The experts introduced throughout are hip and cutting-edge, putting math to work in movie special effects, sports and art. Profusely illustrated and engagingly written, Devlin's tour of modern mathematics brings the subject to life. --Therese Littleton [via]