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A History of Pi (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 31. Dezember 1976

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Produktinformation

  • Taschenbuch: 208 Seiten
  • Verlag: Griffin; Auflage: 0019 (31. Dezember 1976)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0312381859
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312381851
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 14 x 1,4 x 20,7 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 3.6 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (20 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 163.652 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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Produktbeschreibungen

Pressestimmen

A pure delight . . . Entirely offbeat, which gives it its charm. (The Denver Post)

A very readable account. (Science)

A cheerful work. (Scientific American)

Synopsis

Documents the calculation, numerical value, and use of the ratio from 2000 B.C. to the modern computer age, detailing social conditions in eras when progress was made.

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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von kerr@wizard.net am 28. September 1997
Format: Taschenbuch
Since I'm somewhat of a fan of books that cover the history of science and math, I had to buy this one when I saw it. In the preface, the author notes that since he is neither a mathematician nor a historian he is the perfect one to write this book. It turns out that both his math and his history and leave much to be desired.
Regarding mathematical proofs, Beckmann made a concious decision to ply the middle ground between mere hand-waving and totally rigorous proofs. The end result is a scattering of proofs that are neither easy enough to simply read and understand, nor detailed enough to follow to completion.
Petr Beckmann's treatment of history gives the impression that the world has been populated by only two classes of inhabitants: the evil and barbaric (Romans, Christians, Soviets) or the enlightened (Greeks, Chinese, English). His loathing for the Romans is particularly intense, and distracting to the extreme, especially since he takes random swipes at them throughout the entire first half of the book.
There are interesting tidbits scattered throughout the book, but most of these can be gleaned from other history of math books. Much of the book is also dated, such as his treatment of the four-color problem, which was proven recently. This can be forgiven, since the book is over twenty years old, but it does reduce its value as a read even lower than its minimal initial level.
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Format: Taschenbuch
The cold-war era spawned a group of people who believed that the greatest threat to humanity was Soviet Communism. Beckmann was a mordant, informed example of kind. In reading this book, I got the feeling that he couldn't write a grocery list without taking a few good swipes at the Russians. He had a few other targets on his list: anti-nuclear activists, new-age mystification pedlars, and organized religion, at least in the forms that have achieved totalitarian power in society.

Like the Irish of James Joyce's Ulysses, he finds the Roman Empire to be an overblown, violent, anti-intellectual tyranny. Unlike the Irish, he thinks that the Brits are wonderful. After all, they took good care of Isaac Newton.

Scattered around this leavening of political rhetoric is a mathematical history of pi. Here, too, there's a polemic. Beckman dosen't like modern math teaching methods. Nonetheless, the material is interesting. You can imagine the sarcastic field-day that he gets out of the Indiana State Legislature's near-miss at legislating pi to be equal to 3.

The book ends with a badly dated and rather uninformed exploration of computerized calculations of pi.

All in all, I found the book to be a window into a rather obsessive personality. I'm not sure I care enough about the various calculations of pi to justify the toasty feeling of reading a 100 page flame.
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Von Aguagado am 23. Dezember 1999
Format: Taschenbuch
If you're curious about where things like Pi come from, and you don't already know, this book is probably a good place to start. It is not quite as comprehensive as I would have liked; Beckmann overlooks some explanations that he probably assumed would have been so obvious as to offend the reader. But the lack of a complete explanation for some points is not fatal to the book. After all, the subject matter has a deliberately narrow focus.
Some of the criticisms have pointed out Beckmann's tendency to use this book as a sounding board for his biases. And, to be sure, the book is peppered with curious asides that are largely irrelevant to the tale of Pi. Happily, they can be overlooked without detracting from the main story.
If I were addressing my comments to the readers of Grisham or King, I'd be concerned about the power of those comments to offend. But mindful that the 'average' reader of 'A History of Pi' is nothing like the 'average reader' of books generally, I suspect most readers will be either amused or bored by these little diversions, but that few will be offended. (I was amused by Beckmann, who reminds me of a cantankerous uncle.) Overall, the reader comes away with a greater appreciation for the history of this curious number.
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Von Ein Kunde am 22. März 2000
Format: Taschenbuch
My kind of book: A seemingly mundane subject that packs a punch. Those expecting an exhaustive mathematical treatise should remember that this is a HISTORY of pi, including the events and people that colored it. Beckmann is opinionated, and thankfully so! History is a story composed of characters that either advance or impede human progress, and Beckmann shines the spotlight on both, heaping scorn and reverence without regard to who's ox is being gored. In the process, he manages to annoy all the right groups (organized religion, fascists, communists) making him unpopular with some, but rare is the factual rebuttal to any of his charges. Indeed, the primary complaint seems not to be that he's wrong but that he's particularly unforgiving of history's morons. There's enough conceptual math and intriguing history to please both mathematicians and historians, particularly those tired of the politically correct drivel that so permeates popular science today. A truly great read.
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Format: Taschenbuch
Dr. Petr Beckmann was never one to mince words. He quotes a biblical passage that strongly implies that pi equals 3, and while he is never disrespectful to the Bible, he does mock the tortured attempts of some fundamentalists to reconcile this passage with the actual value of pi.
He also mocks the Indiana State Legislature (which, in 1897, nearly passed a law that set the value of pi at about 9.23), and Theodore Heisel (who, in 1931, wrote a mathematical treatise that ignored 4000 years of progress in determining pi).

But he praises Archimedes and Newton, among others, for their heroic and quiet progress in determining the value and application of pi. And, sadly, he concludes that the Heisels of the world are more numerous than the Archimedes.

Great book. But it must be read with an open mind.
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