The Calculus of Friendship: What a Teacher and a Student Learned about Life While Corresponding about Math

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Princeton University Press, Aug 3, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 166 pages
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The Calculus of Friendship is the story of an extraordinary connection between a teacher and a student, as chronicled through more than thirty years of letters between them. What makes their relationship unique is that it is based almost entirely on a shared love of calculus. For them, calculus is more than a branch of mathematics; it is a game they love playing together, a constant when all else is in flux. The teacher goes from the prime of his career to retirement, competes in whitewater kayaking at the international level, and loses a son. The student matures from high school math whiz to Ivy League professor, suffers the sudden death of a parent, and blunders into a marriage destined to fail. Yet through it all they take refuge in the haven of calculus--until a day comes when calculus is no longer enough.

Like calculus itself, The Calculus of Friendship is an exploration of change. It's about the transformation that takes place in a student's heart, as he and his teacher reverse roles, as they age, as they are buffeted by life itself. Written by a renowned teacher and communicator of mathematics, The Calculus of Friendship is warm, intimate, and deeply moving. The most inspiring ideas of calculus, differential equations, and chaos theory are explained through metaphors, images, and anecdotes in a way that all readers will find beautiful, and even poignant. Math enthusiasts, from high school students to professionals, will delight in the offbeat problems and lucid explanations in the letters.

For anyone whose life has been changed by a mentor, The Calculus of Friendship will be an unforgettable journey.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - satyridae - LibraryThing

The math was far, far over my head, but that hardly ever detracts from my enjoyment of a book. However this book, which appeared from the blurbs to be a collection of letters, was actually more of a ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ftong - LibraryThing

A beautiful account of the friendship between two mathematicians, through gems of calculus, simple pleasures, and tragedy. Read full review


Continuity 197475
Pursuit 1976
Irrationality 197879
Shifts 198089
Proof on a Place Mat March 1989
The Monk and the Mountain 198990
Randomness 199091
Celebration 199699
Bifurcation 2004
Heros Formula 2005Present
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About the author (2009)

Steven Strogatz is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics at Cornell University. His books include the best-selling "Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order" (Hyperion). He has written for the "New York Times"'s Opinionator blog.

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