Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Single Digits: in praise of small numbers

by Marc Chamberland

Another book that is not what I'd imagined it would be. The intro says that, yes, it gets into some pretty advanced math, but also says that one can gloss over the finer details of the equations without losing the greater sense of the explanations, which are written such that a 12-year-old can understand — to which I call shenanigans! I admit my math is a little rusty, but I'd be surprised if any twelfth-graders would get this stuff.

One particularly annoying thing is the frequent use of "nontrivial" to describe numbers or equations or whatever without ever defining it. I made it through a semester of college-level calculus (barely) without ever encountering that terminology.

So, totally not for beginners, no matter how intriguing the book description sounds. Perhaps someone will write a book about the interesting qualities of numbers that really is for the layperson.

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