Clifford A. Pickover
A Passion for Mathematics is an educational, entertaining trip through the curiosities of the math world, blending an eclectic mix of history, biography, philosophy, number theory, geometry, probability, huge numbers, and mind-bending problems into a delightfully compelling collection that is sure to please math buffs, students, and experienced mathematicians alike. In each chapter, Clifford Pickover provides factoids, anecdotes, definitions, quotations, and captivating challenges that range from fun, quirky puzzles to insanely difficult problems. Readers will encounter mad mathematicians, strange number sequences, obstinate numbers, curious constants, magic squares, fractal geese, monkeys typing Hamlet, infinity, and much, much more. A Passion for Mathematics will feed readers’ fascination while giving them problem-solving skills a great workout!
Beyond Ordinary Numbers
Clifford A. Pickover, "A Passion for Mathematics," many figures, an answer section, a section of mathematical artwork.
The book is a real treat. Chapter 2, titled "Cool Numbers" (pgs 45-110) is particularly encyclopedic. In this chapter, the reader learns about fascinating numbers and strange number sequences. Topic covered: transcendental numbers, octonions, surreal numbers, obstinate numbers, cyclic numbers, Vibonacci numbers perfect numbers, automorphic numbers, prime numbers, Wilson primes, palindromic primes, Fibonacci primes, Sophie Germain primes, Baxter-Hickerson primes, star-congruent primes, narcissistic numbers, amenable numbers, amicable numbers, p-adic numbers, large palindromes, factorions, hyperfactorials, primorials, palindions and hyperpalindions, exotic-looking formulas for pi, the Golay-Rudin-Shapiro sequence, Mill's constant, wonderful Pochhammer notation, famous and curious math constants (like Liouville's constant, the Copeland-Erdös constant, Brun's constant, Champernowne's number, Euler's gamma, Chaitin's constant, the Landau-Ramanujan constant, the golden ratio, Apéry's constant, and mathematical constants almost too strange to contemplate.)
Other topics: Jesus and mathematics. Why is the number 13 considered unlucky? Who discovered pi? What are "nimbers"? What would happen if everyone's body weight were quantized and came in multiples of pi pounds?
Something for all readers.
Pickover has 'picked over' the same material one too many times
Clifford Pickover is clearly proud of his prodigious output of books. Many of his book jackets highlight the fact that he's published one book a year. But at what price? I eagerly grabbed this book only to see some of the same old puzzles resurface that I've seen in two or three of his other books. I get the sense that Pickover has a giant file of math snippets that he reshuffles and repackages with slightly changed themes in each new book.
Don't get me wrong; I think Pickover is a great popularizer of mathematics. I just wish he'd stop recycling the same material.
More wonders of numbers
." The passion in the title refers to the work of Ramanujan, a mathematician from India who startled the world with equations seemingly pulled from thin air. Ramanujan credited a goddess, Namagiri, for his inspiration. Thus, part of this work deals with the life and legacy of Ramanujan.
The passion may also refer to Pickover's infatuation with the riddles of mathematics. He deals with classic problems such as that of the Bridges of Konigsberg or the always popular secrets of magic squares. Some of the mathematical investigations are a little further off the beaten track. For example, what is the most forgettable license plate? A friend of Pickover, a physicist, actually has a plate with the string of letters "syzygys." (See "customer image") Is this impossible to remember? Most people may say yes. However, it is easy to recall if you are a solar eclipse devotee or a fan of the musical group of that name. Pickover concludes that the string with the highest entropy (the most disorder) is the most forgettable, e.g., the binary string 11010010.
This is an excellent book for those who would like to share the passion for mathematics of Ramujan and Pickover.
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