id: 06013523
dt: b
an: 2014b.00080
au: Pask, Colin
ti: Math for the frightened. Facing scary symbols and everything else that
freaks you out about mathematics.
so: Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books (ISBN 978-1-61614-421-0/pbk;
978-1-61614-422-7/ebook). 380~p. (2011).
py: 2011
pu: Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books
la: EN
cc: A80
ut: numbers; algebra; geometry; popular mathematics
ci:
li:
ab: This is a very nice book aimed at the audience “intimidated by the sight
of mathematical symbols and equations". Its primary goal is to assist
the reader making not-so-confident steps towards understanding of
numbers, algebra, and geometry. Colin Pask stresses the importance of
the visual side of mathematics and pays a special attention to links
between algebraic and geometric approaches to mathematical problems.
Promoting the use of mathematics as “the essential language of
science", he also emphasizes the beauty of the subject arguing that
“the pleasures of mathematics are sometimes compared with the
experiences of music and poetry". Reflecting about who the reader might
be, Colin Pask comes with a concise recommendation: “if you want to
contact the mathematical world but feel nervous about taking the first
steps, then this book is written for you." In reality, the book appeals
to a wider audience; mathematics enthusiasts may enjoy reading it even
more. The exposition is transparent and easy to follow; the author
entertains readers blending mathematics with a good wealth of
interesting historical facts, quotations, diagrams, tables,
illustrations, pointing out that “the style of this book is relaxed
and conversational. However, the intent is serious, and a little
concentration will be required. The rewards are great: by genuinely
confronting the ideas and methods of mathematics you can overcome your
fears and begin to appreciate its joys, beauty, and power." There are
twenty one chapters in the book which are grouped into five blocks with
rather descriptive titles: “Introducing mathematics" (Chapters
1‒8), “Further mathematical explorations" (Chapters 9‒12),
“Applications" (Chapters 13‒16), "The visual side of mathematics"
(Chapters 17‒19), and “Thinking, reasoning, and mathematics"
(Chapters 20‒21). Answers to examples for independent study,
extensive bibliography and suggestions for further reading are
collected in the informative final block “Reference material".
Unreservedly recommending this lovely text, the reviewer wishes to
conclude with the words of the well-known popular-science writer
Professor Ian Stewart on the back cover of the book: “What a great
way to get your brain back into gear, face your fears, and watch them
vanish as your comfort level with math dramatically improves."
rv: Svitlana P. Rogovchenko (Kristiansand)