Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension: A Mathematician's Journey Through Narcissistic Numbers, Optimal Dating Algorithms, at Least Two Kinds of Infinity, and More

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Dec 2, 2014 - Mathematics - 464 pages

A book from the stand-up mathematician that makes math fun again!

Math is boring, says the mathematician and comedian Matt Parker. Part of the problem may be the way the subject is taught, but it's also true that we all, to a greater or lesser extent, find math difficult and counterintuitive. This counterintuitiveness is actually part of the point, argues Parker: the extraordinary thing about math is that it allows us to access logic and ideas beyond what our brains can instinctively do—through its logical tools we are able to reach beyond our innate abilities and grasp more and more abstract concepts.
In the absorbing and exhilarating Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension, Parker sets out to convince his readers to revisit the very math that put them off the subject as fourteen-year-olds. Starting with the foundations of math familiar from school (numbers, geometry, and algebra), he reveals how it is possible to climb all the way up to the topology and to four-dimensional shapes, and from there to infinity—and slightly beyond.
Both playful and sophisticated, Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension is filled with captivating games and puzzles, a buffet of optional hands-on activities that entices us to take pleasure in math that is normally only available to those studying at a university level. Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension invites us to re-learn much of what we missed in school and, this time, to be utterly enthralled by it.

 

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User Review  - fpagan - LibraryThing

A comical mathematician's (mathematical comedian's?) severely UK-centric book taking a recreational look at disparate areas of math (er, maths). Another fine effort to reduce mathophobia by offering a path to the subject that's fun. Read full review

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I wish I could give it 100 stars, or 10 to the 10 stars, or even 10 to the 10 to the 10. This was a great book, and I recommend it to students, teachers, and anyone within shouting distance. Get your library to buy it. I don't care how, just read this book.

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About the author (2014)

Matt Parker is a stand-up comedian and mathematician. He writes about math for The Guardian, has a math column in The Telegraph, is a regular panelist on Radio 4's The Infinite Monkey Cage, has appeared in and worked on Five Greatest on the Discovery Channel, and has performed his math stand-up routines in front of audiences of thousands.

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