The Joy of X

The Joy of X : A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity

3.97 (3,041 ratings by Goodreads)
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A world-class mathematician and regular contributor to the "New York Times" hosts a delightful tour of the greatest ideas of math, revealing how it connects to literature, philosophy, law, medicine, art, business, even pop culture in ways we never imagined Did O.J. do it? How should you flip your mattress to get the maximum wear out of it? How does Google search the Internet? How many people should you date before settling down? Believe it or not, math plays a crucial role in answering all of these questions and more. Math underpins everything in the cosmos, including us, yet too few of us understand this universal language well enough to revel in its wisdom, its beauty -- and its joy. This deeply enlightening, vastly entertaining volume translates math in a way that is at once intelligible and thrilling. Each trenchant chapter of "The Joy of x" offers an "aha!" moment, starting with why numbers are so helpful, and progressing through the wondrous truths implicit in π, the Pythagorean theorem, irrational numbers, fat tails, even the rigors and surprising charms of calculus. Showing why he has won awards as a professor at Cornell and garnered extensive praise for his articles about math for the "New York Times," Strogatz presumes of his readers only curiosity and common sense. And he rewards them with clear, ingenious, and often funny explanations of the most vital and exciting principles of his discipline. Whether you aced integral calculus or aren't sure what an integer is, you'll find profound wisdom and persistent delight in "The Joy of x."show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 316 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 33.02mm | 476.27g
  • Cengage Learning, Inc
  • Boston, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations, black & white line drawings
  • 0547517653
  • 9780547517650
  • 86,019

Review quote

"A delightful exploration of the beauty and fun of mathematics, in the best tradition of Lewis Carroll, George Gamow, and Martin Gardner. "The Joy of x" will entertain you, amaze you, and make you smarter."-- Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of "How the Mind Works" and "The Language Instinct" "Steven Strogatz should do for math what Julia Child did for cookery. He shows that this stuff really matters, and he shows that it can nourish us."-- James Gleick, author of "The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood" and "Chaos" "This joyous book will remind you just how beautiful and mesmerizing math can be. Steve Strogatz is the teacher we all wish we had."-- Joshua Foer, author of "Moonwalking with Einstein""" "I loved this beautiful book from the first page. With his unique ingenuity and affable charm, Strogatz disassembles mathematics as a subject, both feared and revered, and reassembles it as a world, both accessible and magical. "The Joy of x" is, well, a joy." -- Janna Levin, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Barnard College, Columbia University, and author of "How the Universe Got Its Spots" and "A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines""" "Amazingly, mathematicians can see patterns in the universe that the rest of us are usually blind to. With clarity and dry wit, "The Joy of x" opens a window onto this hidden world with its landscapes of beauty and wonder."-- Alan Alda "This book is, simply put, fantastic. It introduces the reader to the underlying concepts of mathematics -- presenting reasons for its unfamiliar language and explaining conceptual frameworks that do in fact make understanding complex problems easier. In a world where mathematics is essential but, largely, poorly understood, Steve Strogatz's teaching skills and deft writing style are an important contribution."-- Lisa Randall, Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science, Harvard University, and author of "Warped Passages" and "Knocking on Heaven's Door""" "Strogatz has discovered a magical function that transforms 'math' into 'joy, ' page after wonderful page. He takes everything that every mystified you about math and makes it better than clear -- he makes it wondrous, delicious, and amazing."-- Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of "Stumbling on Happiness""" "Strogatz may be the only person alive with the skill to pied piper me into the murky abyss of set theory. I literally learned something on every page, despite my innumerate brain. This is a fantastic book, conveyed with clarity, technical mastery, and infectious joy."-- Jad Abumrad, host of "Radiolab""" "Strogatz's graceful prose is perfectly pitched for a popular math book: authoritative without being patronizing, friendly without being whimsical, and always clear and accessible. His "x" marks the spot -- and hits it."-- Alex Bellos, author of "Here's Looking at Euclid""" "Even the most math-phobic readers might forget their dread after just a few pages of Strogatz's ("The Calculus of Friendship") latest. The author, a Cornell professor of applied mathematics, begins with arithmetic, by way of Sesame Street, then explores algebra, geometry, and, finally, the wonders of calculus--all done cheerfully, with many a wry turn of phrase. From addition and subtraction, with a glimpse into negative numbers and 'the black art of borrowing, ' it's a quick step into the hardcore detective work of algebra's search for the unknown x, with algorithms like the quadratic equation, 'the Rodney Dangerfield of algebra' ('it don't get no respect'). Strogatz rhapsodizes over geometry, which he sees as a marriage of logic and intuition that teaches how to build arguments, step by rigorous step, and geometry's 'loosey-goosey' offshoot, topology. Brisk chapters on prime numbers, basic statistics, and probability are all enlightening without being intimidating. Most impressive is Strogatz's coverage of calculus, the math used to figure out everything from how fast epidemics spread to the trajectory of a curveball. Readers will appreciate this lighthearted and thoroughly entertaining book."-- "Publishers Weekly""Strogatz, an applied mathematician at Cornell University and author of Sync, has compiled his immensely popular series of New York Times columns and added new material. "The Joy of X"'s six parts, each divided into several short chapters, move from number basics through algebra, geometry, calculus and statistics to the frontiers of math, where conjectures about prime numbers are still floating around unsolved. The goal is a second chance at learning the math that might have passed you by--this time from an adult perspective. The tone is light and conversational, with delightful narratives about lonely numbers and the Tony Soprano psyche of math itself--outwardly tough but inwardly wracked with insecurity. The easily digestible chapters include plenty of helpful examples and illustrations. You'll never forget the Pythagorean theorem again!"--"Scientific American"show more

About Steven Strogatz

Steven Strogatz is a professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University. A renowned teacher and one of the world's most highly cited mathematicians, he blogs about math for the "New York Times "and been a frequent guest on National Public Radio's "RadioLab. "In 2007 he received the Communications Award, a lifetime achievement award for the communication of mathematics to the general public. He lives in Ithaca, New York with his wife and two more

Rating details

3,041 ratings
3.97 out of 5 stars
5 30% (898)
4 43% (1,311)
3 23% (706)
2 4% (114)
1 0% (12)
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