Comments on: Books about mathematics for the interested layman?
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Comments on Ask MetaFilter post Books about mathematics for the interested layman?Mon, 25 Feb 2013 11:30:29 -0800Mon, 25 Feb 2013 11:33:27 -0800en-ushttp://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss60Question: Books about mathematics for the interested layman?
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman
So, physicists like Brian Greene, Lisa Randall, Kip Thorne, and others have written books aimed at an interested lay audience.
What are similar books written by mathematicians?
I'm aware of Godel, Escher & Bach. And that's about it.post:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000Mon, 25 Feb 2013 11:30:29 -0800dfriedmanmathbooksmathematicianslayreaderBy: Nomyte
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3419897
<a href="http://www.librarything.com/work/124016">An Imaginary Tale: The Story of √-1</a>. Follow the tags from there.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3419897Mon, 25 Feb 2013 11:33:27 -0800NomyteBy: FauxScot
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3419899
No one author, but I do love <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0486432688/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">The World of Mathematics </a> , a 4 volume set covering several thousand years, in papers by original authors with commentary. There is a 1988 version by Microsoft Press that is superior if you can find it, and it is highly regarded if you want to get both context and content without spending huge amounts of time DOING math. I buy sets to give away. That good, really.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3419899Mon, 25 Feb 2013 11:35:33 -0800FauxScotBy: knile
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3419907
<a href="http://ask.metafilter.com/234198/The-Seven-Bridges-of-Knigsberg-in-200-Words-or-Less">A similar recent question</a>comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3419907Mon, 25 Feb 2013 11:40:12 -0800knileBy: GuyZero
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3419943
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0802778127/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci's Arithmetic Revolution</a> is interesting. Isaac Asimov wrote a number of great books on math for laypeople but sadly they're all out of print now - check your local library.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3419943Mon, 25 Feb 2013 12:02:43 -0800GuyZeroBy: Chocolate Pickle
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3419956
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1162983116/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">"Symbolic Logic" and "The Game of Logic" by Lewis Carroll</a>. (Yes, the same one who write "Alice in Wonderland".)comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3419956Mon, 25 Feb 2013 12:11:27 -0800Chocolate PickleBy: Johnny Assay
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420020
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0062064010/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">The Music of the Primes,</a> by Marcus du Sautoy.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420020Mon, 25 Feb 2013 12:45:49 -0800Johnny AssayBy: eugenen
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420024
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0393339289/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">"Everything and More" by David Foster Wallace.</a>comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420024Mon, 25 Feb 2013 12:46:35 -0800eugenenBy: ubiquity
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420028
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G_H_Hardy">G. H. Hardy</a>'s <em>A Mathematician's Apology</em> is a classic. It doesn't have much math, except for a very succinct proof that the square root of two is not rational, but it will give you an idea of how mathematicians think.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420028Mon, 25 Feb 2013 12:48:30 -0800ubiquityBy: Afroblanco
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420034
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0767908163/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">The Golden Ratio: The Story of PHI, the World's Most Astonishing Number</a><br>
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It is not an exaggeration to say this book changed my life.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420034Mon, 25 Feb 2013 12:52:56 -0800AfroblancoBy: epo
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420046
<a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Pleasures-Counting-T-K%C3%B6rner/dp/0521568234">The Pleasures of Counting</a> by T W Körner.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420046Mon, 25 Feb 2013 13:03:59 -0800epoBy: gimonca
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420052
I very much enjoyed <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0226199924/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">The Broken Dice</a> by Ivar Ekeland.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420052Mon, 25 Feb 2013 13:07:43 -0800gimoncaBy: number9dream
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420053
The book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0192853619/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction</a>, by Fields medallist Tim Gowers, is (as advertised) a short book that explains what mathematics is actually <em>about</em>. <br>
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Many of the other books listed here are interesting, but deal more with mathematical curiosities, e.g. The Golden Ratio or An Imaginary Tale. Not that this makes them bad books! But they don't give you much of an idea of what mathematicians do or think about.<br>
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I have given this book to my family members, friends, and to my wife, in an attempt to explain what it is that I do with my time.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420053Mon, 25 Feb 2013 13:08:30 -0800number9dreamBy: leahwrenn
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420084
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=ian+stewart">Ian Stewart</a> has a number of nice pop-math books. <br>
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Do you count John Allan Paulos's books? <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0809058405/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">Innumeracy</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/038548254X/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">A Mathematician Reads the newspaper</a>; <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0007TFOD2/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">A mathematician plays the stock market</a>comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420084Mon, 25 Feb 2013 13:31:12 -0800leahwrennBy: OHenryPacey
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420138
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312421877/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">Imagining Numbers</a> and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385493622/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">Fermat's Enigma</a> are two of my favescomment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420138Mon, 25 Feb 2013 14:13:25 -0800OHenryPaceyBy: Gymnopedist
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420244
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/014014739X/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">Journey Through Genius</a> is a really cool one that explains a lot of famous theorems in a way that a layperson can follow and gives the history surrounding them.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420244Mon, 25 Feb 2013 15:59:18 -0800GymnopedistBy: Camofrog
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420413
Not by a mathematician, but Charles Seife's "Zero" is pretty great.<br>
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http://www.amazon.com/Zero-Biography-Dangerous-Charles-Seife/dp/0140296476comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420413Mon, 25 Feb 2013 18:50:32 -0800CamofrogBy: mediareport
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420525
Surprised no one's mentioned <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0786884061/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdös and the Search for Mathematical Truth</a> by Paul Hoffman -- "both a vivid portrait of an eccentric genius and a layman's guide to some of this century's most startling mathematical discoveries." There's neat detail in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/h/hoffman-man.html">this NYT review</a>, including the classic story about Erdos' love for amphetamines.<br>
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And here are a few more previouslies:<br>
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<a href="http://ask.metafilter.com/84984/Beautiful-Equations#1256618">Inspiring books about mathematics and statistics?...The books should be readable by a non-gifted, non-math major.</a><br>
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<a href="http://ask.metafilter.com/225416/Gauss-Escher-Bach-Give-me-math-that-doesnt-read-like-math">Gauss, Escher, Bach. Give me math that doesn't read like math!</a><br>
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<a href="http://ask.metafilter.com/225020/Expanding-my-pure-math-knowledge">Can anyone recommend some advanced (pure) math books to learn new subjects? Also nonfiction books about math that are good reads?</a><br>
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I'm sure there are more further back in the archives as well.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420525Mon, 25 Feb 2013 21:44:51 -0800mediareportBy: crocomancer
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420568
Rudy Rucker - <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Infinity-Mind-Philosophy-Infinite-Princeton/dp/0691121273">Infinity and the Mind</a>comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420568Tue, 26 Feb 2013 01:08:19 -0800crocomancerBy: Wylla
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420592
Alex Bellos, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1416588280/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">Here's Looking at Euclid</a> (called Alex's Adventures in Numberland in the UK) is awesome.<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/alexbellos"> Bellos also writes about math topics</a> for the Guardian.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420592Tue, 26 Feb 2013 03:51:21 -0800WyllaBy: leibniz
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420671
This book <a href="http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2012/08/mathematics-is-as-rich-as-literature.html">Thinking in Numbers</a> looks pretty good (link to New Scientist review).comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420671Tue, 26 Feb 2013 06:33:00 -0800leibnizBy: Chocolate Pickle
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420723
Abbot's "<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/048627263X/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/">Flatland</a>" is another example.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420723Tue, 26 Feb 2013 07:29:01 -0800Chocolate PickleBy: dfriedman
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3420747
Thanks for all the suggestions.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3420747Tue, 26 Feb 2013 07:49:53 -0800dfriedmanBy: wittgenstein
http://ask.metafilter.com/236000/Books-about-mathematics-for-the-interested-layman#3421087
Late to the party, but let me second Rudy Rucker's <strong>Infinity and the Mind</strong>, which will blow your mind.comment:ask.metafilter.com,2013:site.236000-3421087Tue, 26 Feb 2013 12:38:28 -0800wittgenstein