Response to The Math Book:
What an awesome read! Here is a description of pros and a con of the book, in my opinion.
Pros:
Presentation.
When I bought the book and flipped through it, my first impression of it was very positive. The way that it is organized as a timeline with just one event (plus an eye-catching illustration) on each pair of pages is incredibly appealing. Each idea was introduced, described, and related to recent events in just one page. The following page would move on to follow the same summarizing process for a completely different concept. The sequential order of the book helped me to connect and compare historical events and discoveries and arrange their progression in my head.

I expected The Math Book to be like a traditional textbook, full of plain and confusing text. In reality, the book was quite appealing and accessible to me. I believe that the majority of it would be accessible to a variety of readers. The concepts discussed throughout the book were introduced in an informal and relatable way.

Content.
The book's introduction states that it outlines 250 of the greatest math events in history. I would definitely have to agree! Although the book resembles an encyclopedia in size, once I began to read it I couldn't put it down. This is again due to the brief nature of each mini-history on each page. I didn't become bored or overwhelmed by what was being discussed because the descriptions rarely went into deep detail. Clifford Pickover really did a great job exploring and summing up each idea with just a few paragraphs.

Besides the way that the content was communicated, the actual content was informative and intriguing. My personal favorite parts of the book include those highlighting women mathematicians, historic remnants of math tools and writings, and math in nature. Pickover's appreciation of math was obvious through his writing. He shared such eye-opening and mind-boggling facts that his belief in math's beauty became contagious.


Con:
Content.
Although content was one of the best features of The Math Book, it also plays a part in the one con that I came across. About halfway through the 516-paged monster, the topics discussed shifted from interesting and somewhat familiar to hard to grasp and over my head. I am not a master mathematician and had trouble wrapping my mind around certain ideas presented. Some of these are related to calculus and abstract math. Even after reading and re-reading a page several times, I found myself saying, "What?!?" With more education in higher-level math, I would probably be able to translate the information so that it is more meaningful to me. However, reading through some of math's history, I felt like the guy that misses the punchline of a joke and has to awkwardly move on with a blank look on his face.

 
 


Comments

06/15/2013 6:08am

Book notes: full marks
Week 5:
Not sure what you've added over & above the book notes. I'll count it ungraded for a week, but to submit for an exemplar you would want to write a synthesis or review or response.

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