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05042012, 03:56 PM  #1798660 / #1 
Betraytheist
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 7,976

Pop math books
I'm teaching a college algebra class that's a terminal degree requirement for a lot of my students, and, in a (probably fruitless) effort to introduce some curiosityinspiring stuff into the curriculum, I've decided to assign a book report of some pop math book.
Suggestions for the reading list? 
05042012, 07:19 PM  #1798856 / #3 
Betraytheist
Join Date: Mar 2008
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I've never read Freakonomics! It seems like it might be the sort of thing I have in mind, though. I was also thinking about Euclid's Window and The Monty Hall Problem.

05042012, 07:40 PM  #1798877 / #4  
Hung
Join Date: Dec 2010
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GEB
*ducks and runs* Seriously possibly Lady or the Tiger? And Other Logic Puzzles? http://www.amazon.com/PuzzlesInclud.../dp/0812921178 And I think that some people would like ArchimedesRevenge http://www.amazon.com/ArchimedesRev.../dp/0449217507
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05042012, 07:49 PM  #1798895 / #6  
Betraytheist
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I'm not so down on GEB that I wouldn't want my students to read it, but it's like 700 pages long! None of them are going to make it through that. Quote:


05042012, 08:05 PM  #1798912 / #8 
TRIGGER WARNING
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What do you mean by "pop math"? If Polya's How to Solve It meets the criteria, you can try that. If not, something like Keith Devlin's The Language of Mathematics may serve to whet some students' appetite about maths, but it's not very proof intensive (although it does contain some proofs).

05042012, 08:11 PM  #1798914 / #9 
Francach Éireannach
Join Date: Dec 2009
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'Mathematics Minus Fear' is interesting but 'How long is a piece of string' is probably more attention getting because of the gambling element. I am math challenged though so maybe these are a bit too simplistic.

05042012, 09:07 PM  #1798951 / #10  
Hung
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 20,361

Hey what about Winnie Cooper's books?
I've never read them but didn't she write some math books more or less aimed at getting high school girls interested in math? She has a low Erdos number.
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05052012, 12:23 PM  #1799556 / #11  
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Conquering Mathematics From Arithmetic to Calculus By Lloyd Motz and Jefferson Hane Weaver The second is a favorite of mine: A Tour of the Calculus By David Berlinski Another really good math book (algebra level only) but probably hard to find: Reed’s Mathematics For Engineers By William Embleton, O.B.E. It shouldn’t be any problem to get a list of thirty or more. 

05052012, 01:32 PM  #1799586 / #14  
Hung
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Because it's not so loosey goosey as philosophy?
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05052012, 03:51 PM  #1799691 / #15  
Betraytheist
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05052012, 03:59 PM  #1799696 / #16  
Betraytheist
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Even I thought Berlinski's book was boring! And mathematics for engineers? We're not talking about a group of young engineers, mathematicians, and scientists here. The law of cosines is the most advanced math that any of these people will ever see in school. 

05052012, 08:48 PM  #1799977 / #17  
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05062012, 07:03 AM  #1800213 / #18  
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Emperor's New Mind on the other hand, I found more lay accessible, more compact and highly motivating. A bit out of date now but still a classic imo. 

05062012, 06:21 PM  #1800456 / #19  
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05072012, 01:47 AM  #1800702 / #20 
Dubstyle.
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Fermat's Last Theorem by Simon Singh?
Or whatever title it was published under in the US. eta: the more I think about this the more I think it's up your street. It goes into a little about the pythagoreans, the history of maths through some of the heroes and villains, it touches on calculus and the history of its discovery, the tale of Galois etc. It's all slightly romanticised but I know someone who's teaching senior maths who was inspired to get her degree from reading it. Last edited by Requiescat in pace; 05072012 at 01:53 AM. 
05072012, 06:14 PM  #1801179 / #22 
Dubstyle.
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FLT has some great basic proofs, Euclid's proof of primes, proof of the irrationality of root 2, a neat and easy to grasp geometric proof of the Pythagoras theorem. I can't think of a better book to inspire nonemathematicians regarding the beauty and history of math. Most math books for the nonemathematician are full of analogies and intuitive stuff which try to convey mathematical ideas in easy to grasp ways, IOW they're pointless as 'math' books for the nonemathematician and more like false advertising.

05082012, 06:28 AM  #1801808 / #23 
TR's not unreasonable actuary
Join Date: Jun 2008
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There is a book called The Mathematical Universe, by Dunham I think, that some of my math interested, but not capable friends have enjoyed. The gimmick is 26 chapters, from A to Z, about different mathy things. Very broad, accessible, lots of neat proofs and personalities.


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