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The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Mathematics, from One to Infinity (English Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Steven Strogatz
4.5 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)

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'Strogatz's graceful prose is perfectly pitched for a popular maths book: authoritative without being patronising, friendly without being whimsical, and always clear and accessible. His x marks the spot - and hits it.' Alex Bellos, author of Alex's Adventures in Numberland


Maths is everywhere, often where we least expect it. Award-winning professor Steven Strogatz acts as our guide as he takes us on a tour of numbers that - unbeknownst to the most of us - form a fascinating and integral part of our everyday lives. In The Joy of X, Strogatz explains the great ideas of maths - from negative numbers to calculus, fat tails to infinity - and shows how they connect to everything from popular culture and philosophy to current affairs and business practice. He is the maths teacher you never had and this book is perfect for the smart and curious, the expert and the beginner.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 2115 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 336 Seiten
  • Verlag: Atlantic Books (1. November 2012)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B00A25NMO4
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Aktiviert
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.5 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #87.298 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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4.5 von 5 Sternen
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Nice book 14. Dezember 2012
Von Andi
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Very nice intro to mathematical concepts. Should be required reading for all all high-school math teachers.
"Alex's Number Land" is a bit better though, imo.
War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?
0 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
kam blitzschnell und war unversehrt. Das Buch wird von dem Beschenkten sehr gelobt. Was kann man mehr von Amazon erwarten?
War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?
Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.4 von 5 Sternen  220 Rezensionen
105 von 106 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A remarkably enjoyable tour through the mathematical universe 2. Oktober 2012
Von J. Chambers - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
Struggling through several years of higher math in engineering school in the 1960s didn't engender a love of mathematics in me. It wasn't until years later that I began to value the beauty and elegance of mathematics. A big part of my appreciation came from mathematicians like Steven Strogatz who wrote about math for readers who appreciated the concepts but had no desire to wade into a morass of complex equations.

In The Joy of x, Strogatz has done a masterful job as our tour guide through the elements of mathematics, and he's done it without "dumbing it down" or making it just another refresher course for the subject. He presented the various mathematical elements and concepts in fresh new ways, but he clearly expected the reader to exercise their mind to understand. The reward was a new appreciation of the beauty of mathematics and for how our knowledge of the subject advanced in fits and starts over several thousand years.

The book has six parts, each presenting certain elements of mathematics: Numbers, Relationships, Shapes, Change, Data, and Frontiers. These sections represent a grand tour through the history and development of mathematics, including the practical - and some whimsical - applications. Never again will I fall into the trap of bungling the answer to the classic "If three men paint three fences in three hours, how long will it take for one man to paint one fence?" (answer: 3 hours). Now I understand why a piece of paper can't be folded in half more than 7-8 times, and how a high school junior was able to beat the record using a monstrously long roll of... toilet paper! I know how Luke could guarantee himself a win over Darth Vader in a game of laser tag (hint: it involves a conic section). For young lovers, mathematics could help in finding the perfect mate (if you make a few simplistic assumptions, that is). And if the prosecution in the O.J. Simpson murder trial had understood probability and statistics, could they have gotten a conviction?

As enjoyable as the first five sections of the book were, my favorite section was the last, "Frontiers," where the author covered topics including prime numbers, where I learned that no one has ever found an exact formula to find primes; group theory, which bridges the arts and sciences; topology; spherical geometry; and infinite series. This section presented some fascinating ideas. For example, group theory suggests how to get the most even wear from a mattress and confirms the old mnemonic "spin in the spring, flip in the fall." For topology, the famous Möbius strip is examined. I thought I understood the properties of a Möbius strip, but they're actually more remarkable than I would have guessed. And the most mind-blowing concept was that some infinities are larger than others. This finding, which was bitterly contested at the time, is brilliantly demonstrated with a parable named the Hilbert Hotel.

I don't always read all of the footnotes or endnotes in a book, but the endnotes in The Joy of x are not to be missed. There are dozens of links to websites and online videos that demonstrate or expound on the concepts presented in the book. Some of these were so intriguing that I spent a couple of hours being spellbound by them.

For anyone who's been disappointed by other math books written for laypersons, The Joy of x may be the book they've been hoping for. With keen insight, a light touch, and a bit of humor, author Steven Strogatz has written a splendid book for anyone who wants a broader understanding of mathematics.

Note: I read an advance reader copy of this book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
81 von 83 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A Whirlwind Tour of Mathematics 4. September 2012
Von Louis N. Gruber - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
This math-challenged reviewer would not ordinarily consider "joy" in connection with mathematics, so this little book sounded interesting. It is not a textbook of mathematics, not even an introductory one, but rather a quick tour through a range of mathematical ideas and concepts, aimed at the curious, but baffled layman. It covers everything--from numbers and counting, to negative numbers, imaginary numbers, algebra, the elements of calculus, probability, sine waves, geometry, trigonometry, solid geometry, topology, and the challenging problems of infinity. Will you understand all these things after reading "Joy"? No, but the terms and concepts will sound a little more familiar, less intimidating.

Author Steven Strogatz is no dull professor. He writes in a light-hearted entertaining way, with constant reference to the practical applications of mathematics. Along the way he presents some counter-intuitive problems for the reader to play with, amusing illustrations, and personal anecdotes.

No, you won't learn much mathematics from this delightful little book, but you'll learn some interesting things ABOUT mathematics that would never have occurred to you. I enjoyed this book and I may go back and read some chapters again. Forget about those painful experiences with long division when you were in school. This can actually be fun. I recommend it. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.
80 von 87 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Enjoyment=attitude x (aptitude + interest) / ln(perseverance) 27. Dezember 2012
Von Andy in Washington - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Before you buy this book, take a second to examine yourself. If you always hated math, don't bother with this book. You will just use it to reinforce your dislikes. But if you have ever looked at numbers, triangles, or even google page rankings and wondered how anyone ever figured any of that stuff out, this might be your book.

=== The Good Stuff ===

* This is not a math book. You won't learn how to calculate the area of a triangle, the odds of a no-hitter or the present value of a 40 year annuity. But if you are willing to read carefully and think about the concepts presented, you will have a better understanding of how math is used to model and predict the way the world works.

* I am an Electrical Engineer, a field that uses moderate level math on a daily basis. Even though none of this material was new to me, there was some interesting ways of explaining things which I had never considered before. This always comes in handy, even among fellow techies. And there were numerous facts and observations which, while I probably could derive them myself, were interesting enough to spend some time examining.

* All the material presented in the book is certainly at the level that any high-school graduate could understand. You might not be able to grasp the nuances of the material, or be able to use the concepts to solve real world problems, but you will have an understanding of how the math works. Depending on the amount of math your have been exposed to, some topics might require the reader to think a bit to understand the concepts.

Think about a two page article that describes how an internal combustion engine works. After reading it, you might understand the basic concept operation-gas/air mixture igniting and driving pistons, which rotate a shaft, which drives the wheels. You certainly couldn't design one, or fix one, and you would not know how to drive a car. But you certainly would have a better appreciation for what goes on under the hood, and it might spark your interest to learn more.

* All of the sections are short, and err on the side of over simplification and minimal explanation. This is not a math textbook, or a history of math. It is more an overview of various topics.

=== The Not So Good Stuff ===

* Strogatz tries to do too much. As an example, the equations of James Clerk Maxwell are some of the most profound mathematical models ever conceived by the human race. They predict and allow analysis of just about anything in the world that uses electricity or magnetism. But they are not at all simple, either in conception or mathematical constructs. A three page summary of them borders on the absurd. I doubt whether any person without a decent physics and math background would ever see the beauty or elegance of them.

* The chapters all seem to need to be the same length, likely a result of the newspaper articles this material was originally developed for. As a result, some simple topics seem stretched out to fill space, while some of the more complex topics are condensed beyond usefulness.

* "Advanced" math users, such as those who have studied differential and integral calculus, analytic geometry and differential equations will find some limited tidbits, but will mostly be bored by the book.

=== Summary ===

Strogatz sets himself a fairly difficult task. He tries to write a single book, which gives introductory explanations of topics ranging from integers and rational numbers all the way to linear algebra and differential equations. He tries to do this is a "mass market" book, targeted at readers with a wide gamut of math experience.

I am not sure that is a reasonable goal. In fact, I think it borders on the impossible.

Still, Strogatz makes as valiant an attempt as possible. I believe the book is "readable" by users of advanced math, and there are enough tidbits and interesting ways of explaining things to hold their interest. The book is also simple enough that most anyone can work their way through the examples and appreciate the concepts.

I enjoyed it, but not sure I would recommend it.
39 von 42 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen X marks the spots of mathematical understanding and appreciation 23. August 2012
Von Charles Ashbacher - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
Popular science writers perform an essential function for society; they help convince it that math is important and necessary. A large number of people suffer from some form of math phobia, from the person that struggles with it to that group that simply hates it. While this creates problems and a split in society, what is devastating is when people believe that mathematics has no value. As long as the general social body believes math is important and needs to be part of education, society can survive the math phobia.
People like Strogatz that write about math in publications for the general audience perform that function, for even someone with a math phobia will read the first few sentences of a math piece out of curiosity. Strogatz wrote a series of items about mathematics for the "New York Times" online and one can see why it was such a success. He begins each of the short segments in this book with a lively catch phrase that grabs your attention. His prose is light, substantive and thorough; by the time you reach the end the point has been well made.
Strogatz also does not shy away from using a formula and other mathematical notation when necessary, something that I commend him for. Ever since Steven Hawking made the famous statement in "A Brief History of Time" about the inverse relationship between the number of equations and the number of sales I am impressed when authors of popular mathematics include equations.
This collection of short columns about mathematics is a joy to read, people from the one with a phobia to those that love it will find the mathematics interesting.
12 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen My favorite book about math! 14. Oktober 2012
Von Dana Nourie - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
I loved, loved, loved this book! It doesn't teach you how to do math, but it really helps you understand how the various equations, formulas, and types of math are used and why. The author's voice throughout is entertaining and friendly. He gives wonderful examples, analogies, and metaphors for the math concepts. I finally understand what logarithms are and what they're used for! I learned how to calculate log equations recently, but I couldn't fathom why you'd need or want to do that. Steve explained it in ways that made sense and using examples I'll remember. The chapters are organized nicely, all terms are explained, and it ends with a lot of resources.

But I have to say, I'm disappointed to have reached the end of the book! I want more. This was a fun read, and I learned a lot. It made so much sense of the math I'm learning. I also want to remark I am 50 years old and decided to finally learn math because of my interest in science. I have plenty of math text books and watch online videos to learn *how* to do math. But this was the best book ever to *understand* math and the ways it's used.

Steve, please, please, please write another Joy of X. Maybe call it, The Joy of X^. You know you only touched on a few mathematics in this book. I'd love to read another by you, written in the same style, digging into more algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, linear algebra, etc.

This was a great book. I highly recommend it. This book is a fun, interesting read even if you don't do math, even if you're not interested in learning more math, and especially if you are doing math.
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