Posted 20 hours ago

Alex's Adventures in Numberland: Dispatches from the Wonderful World of Mathematics

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I am not comfortable with maths beyond the basics (O'level 25 years ago) but I bought this book for my husband who loves maths and he loved this book.I have a degree in mathematics, but there were many things in the book that were new to me, and some that made my jaw drop. He commences by describing how different cultures use counting and numbers, and in many ways this is the most interesting part of the book. All the people in this book have been treated as creative artists and their work has been explored with childlike wonder. I was instead a believer in the theory that an industry segment collapses under the weight of too much money chasing it, and all you need for that analysis is a critical mass of Wall Street Journal headlines. But you would be hard-pressed to find a book on this subject with the same humour, wonder, and with the comfort of knowing that the author is resolutely on your side on this (sometimes difficult) adventure through the land of numbers and shapes.

He shines a light on the mathematical patterns in nature, and on the peculiar predictability of random behaviour.Bellos proceeds with a revelatory anecdote illustrating our own socialized mania for quantification. When I saw this book on one of my frequent browses I thought that sounds right up my street so bought it (it had good reviews). Bellos starts his tour of the mathematical world with some anthropology, asking whether numbers are something natural to humans, or whether they are learned and constructed. Instead, he effortlessly reveals the truth of just how fascinating, how human, how intensely interesting this subject (and its history) really is.

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