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

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The chapter uses maths to confirm that there are a few clever clogs who can improve gambling odds but the rest of us are easy prey to owners of casinos whose only redeeming quality is that they are as stupid as the rest of us in understanding how probability theory works and must therefore put their faith in the quants they employ, much like the purchasers of derivatives products. Moreover, his goal is not to instruct, any more than the goal of THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS is a manual on chess-playing.

Rather, he provides a series of interesting facts and folksy supporting anecdotes to show the development of: (1) different fields--geometry, probability, statistics; (2) concepts--pi, phi, infinity, zero; and (3) tools--logarithms, slide rules, the quincunx; in a way that is mostly understandable and usually entertaining.After studying mathematics and philosophy at university I joined the Evening Argus in Brighton as a trainee reporter. The highest found (at the time of publication of the book) was 2

I'm an engineer, so I might be slightly better positioned to understand this text, but the format and language of the book assumes nothing of the reader (without being condescending) and explains every concept in a way that even a lay person will be able to follow. The chapter on gambling (Slot/fruit machines, Roulette, Black-Jack) is too long, and my dear Gödel is missing completely!SHORTLIST: BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2010 Praise: A mathematical wonder that will leave you hooked on numbers…It’s hard not to get swept away by Bellos’s enthusiasm Daily Telegraph Original and highly entertaining.

Statistics therefore became important for states, for economists, and to discover and understand climate change. Chapters 0 tells how numbers emerged, evolving from a means of counting items necessary for survival to wholly counter-intuitive abstract concepts. I'll even forgive him for saying 'math' once (well twice if you include a quote but that was from an American and we all know they can't speak English) and a typo in the logarithms section (can you spot it? Packed with fascinating, eye-opening anecdotes, Alex's Adventures in Numberland is an exhilarating cocktail of history, reportage and mathematical proofs that will leave you awestruck.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. Mathematicians are familiar with the form as represented by Professor Daina Taimina's model constructed from crochet work. Counting proper (and associated manipulations of numbers and quantities) took off when civilisations started to grow and rulers needed to know how much land their citizens had and, therefore, how much tax they should pay. The latter is no doubt core to the book's strengths, because Bellos brings a hobbyists's enthusiasm along with a sympathy for the semi-literacy most of us bring to the maths.

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