Search results: maths
The author of Alex’s Adventures in Numberland tells us about popular attempts to explain the history of counting and numbers. He chooses the best books to read about maths.
It is quite rare in maths writing that you get someone who is such a good stylist, and he’s cultured so he puts it in context. It’s an absolute joy to read, even though some of the maths is quite difficult. I would probably recommend it to someone who is already interested in maths.
As math becomes increasingly important in our daily lives, eminent mathematicians and statisticians have stepped up to the plate, writing books that are engaging for non-experts—and sometimes even funny. Kit Yates, a mathematical biologist and author of The Math of Life and Death, recommends the best math books of 2019.
The Math of Life and Death, by Kit Yates, a senior lecturer in mathematical biology at the University of Bath, is an excellent popular math book, demonstrating the many times math plays a critical role in our daily lives—often without us even knowing it. Kit Yates chose the Best Math Books of 2019 for us. […]
From mathematical card tricks to an arrangement of interlocking pentagons previously thought impossible, the maths writer explains why solutions to maths problems can be as beautiful as paintings or sculpture
Diaconis and Graham are two of the most fascinating and fun mathematicians you will ever meet. They both exemplify maths as entertainment, even though they also do very serious maths
The Oxford professor tells us how he finds beauty in maths, and why his ultimate aim is to become a master of the glass bead game.
This book is for generalists, and it’s a very interesting look at the history of maths and science. I found it very engaging, and I have trouble with maths and science books – I don’t usually finish them.
In I Can’t Do Maths two professors of maths education, Alf Coles and Nathalie Sinclair, look at why it is that some kids are put off learning maths and whether there’s a way around this. In particular, they analyze five ‘dogmas’ that they challenge, including ‘Maths is always right or wrong’ and ‘Maths is for […]
What is the best way to teach maths? Maths teacher and author Alf Coles recommends books that offer some clues.
Education writer Peg Tyre says many parents don’t understand how children learn and so don’t know what to look for in a school. She recommends five books to bring parents up to speed.
Gattegno was a maths educator who talked about, in his own practice, teaching the entire five-year secondary maths curriculum in 18 months.
“I yield freely to the sacred frenzy”—Johannes Kepler, 1619. Infinite Powers: the Story of Calculus is a popular math book, written for a general audience. In it, mathematician Steven Strogatz not only takes us through the history of calculus, from Archimedes to the present day—pointing out its extraordinary contribution to modern life along the way—but […]
From Thales’s theorem to the Banach-Tarski paradox, Oxford mathematician David Acheson’s book, The Wonder Book of Geometry, is a lively attempt to bring to life geometry—literally, ‘earth measurement’—and make it accessible to the general public. Here, David recommends some of the books that influenced him, “in the order in which I met them, over a timespan of some 60 years.”
Award-winning statistician and political scientist Andrew Gelman says that uncertainty is an important part of life, and recognition of that uncertainty is itself an important step. He picks the best books on statistics.
The professor of quantum information theory at Oxford tells us about books that successfully popularise quantum physics and the science of complex systems. Look, no equations!
It’s about the mathematicians and rocket scientists who came up with a series of concepts as to how to use math to try to game the market
It can be used to understand everything from bedbugs to traffic jams and helps us take photos and fly planes. Maths professor and author Nick Higham picks five books that show the many wonders of applied maths.
The reason I’ve chosen this book is that if we really want to understand the language of the brain we have to engage with these very powerful concepts of how it is that things are synchronised. This is a book for the general public that tries to relay some of that excitement, some of the tools that we’ve gained mathematically in order to do that.
The book makes maths really, really fascinating: it’s about the history of maths, and also about the Cambridge mathematician Andrew Wiles who was obsessed with Fermat’s theorem since the age of ten and spent his whole life wanting to solve it, and finally did in the 1990s. It’s great because Simon Singh has this ability to write about the driest and most complex scientific or mathematical concepts and issues, and somehow make them come alive.
Quantum computing: it sounds more complicated than quantum mechanics, but it isn’t. Mathematician Chris Bernhardt, author of Quantum Computing for Everyone, explains why you need to know about it and which books will help you understand what it’s all about.
Nearly every aspect of our life is determined by economics, and yet it’s easy to go through life understanding very little about it. Author and columnist Tim Harford (aka the ‘Undercover Economist’) introduces the best books to get you thinking like an economist.
The Research Fellow at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL, discusses aspects of the relationship between the mind and the brain. Recommends books on autism, the allure of neuroscience, consciousness and maths
Former UNESCO Professor of Maths and Economics at Columbia University selects five intriguing books on catastophic risks, making statistical decisions and reasoned gambling
How do computers work? What is well-crafted code? How do you write an algorithm? Ana Bell, lecturer in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, chooses the best books to learn computer science and programming.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a charming, prize-winning novel by Mark Haddon. Written as a mystery, the story is told through the eyes of a teenage boy who is great at maths but finds many other aspects of life difficult.
Every statistic is the result of someone’s work, and we’d do well to ask ourselves why it was created. That way, says the statistician, we have a better chance of working out when dangers are being overstated and data misused
Ken Liu, the multi-award winning author of The Paper Menagerie, explains how using elements of fantasy and science fiction can help us examine deep truths about the human condition, as he recommends the best of contemporary speculative fiction.
“As life on Earth is rocked by conflict and environmental crisis, these serene little scientific emissaries remind us of how different it can be when we collaborate selflessly in the getting of knowledge.” Barbara Kiser, veteran science journalist and the books and arts editor at Nature, chooses the best science books of 2018.
Polya teaches you how to discover. It’s easy to think that this is just a book about maths, but it’s not. When you read it you will learn about science in general
The author Malba Tahan is a fictional character, a pen name, and the book is set in Arabia as a mixture of One Thousand and One Nights and a maths book. It is composed of lovely little stories and, with each chapter of a few pages, it introduces a mathematical idea along with a story about travelling through the Arab world.
Award-winning British physicist, Athene Donald, tells us how to fight preconceived ideas about gender and suggests reading that could inspire women to pursue careers in science.
In its study of the broader economy, macroeconomics is a vital tool for understanding the world around us, offering insights into issues that affect us all, like inflation and unemployment. Which textbooks to read to learn more about it? Here, Raffaele Rossi, Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester, recommends his top macroeconomics textbooks, starting with entry-level books aimed at undergraduates all the way through to the tough tomes you’ll need to plough through if you’re doing a doctorate and want to work at the frontier of the discipline.
He uses the mathematics of complexity theory, which looks at non-linear relationships over time. Economics has tended to use linear relationships, because they’re easy to solve.
Stella Maris is the second of the linked novels from Pulitzer prize-winning Cormac McCarthy—one of the greatest living American authors. The two books tell the story of Bobby and Alicia Western, a brother and sister pair tormented by their family history—their physicist father helped invent the atom bomb. In Stella Maris—a novel that unfolds entirely through […]
Joe Stiglitz is not just brilliant at solving math equations, he’s really good at abstract thinking and drawing out interesting implications of topics
Normally at Five Books we ask experts to recommend the best books in their field and talk to us about them in an interview, either in person, by phone or via Zoom. After a busy end-of-year, our human beings needed a few days off. Instead, we decided to ask the AI bot, ChatGPT, to recommend books to us on the topic of AI. Being an AI doesn’t necessarily make the chatbot an expert on AI books, but we thought it might have some ideas. Do not fear, next week we’ll be back with real human beings (unless readers feel the AI did a better job, in which case we’re happy to step aside).
Sixteen years after his devastating, Pulitzer Prize-winning post-apocalyptic novel The Road was released, Cormac McCarthy—one of the greatest living American authors—has published two new linked novels, The Passenger and Stella Maris. The two books (shown here as a boxset) tell the story of Bobby and Alicia Western, a brother and sister pair tormented by their […]
Former BusinessWeek writer recommends five books that deepen our understanding of the science and psychology behind Jeopardy!’s computer champion, Watson
Have you ever been “sexiled”? Or used game theory, without realising it, to get someone to do the dishes? Economics professor and author Daniel Hamermesh recommends books that show how economic thinking can illuminate almost any area of life.
Everyone wants to get their kids reading, and a really gripping series is a great way of developing their inner bookworm. Izzy, a 10-year-old girl living in the UK, talks us through her favourite series for kids.
From Thales’s theorem to the Banach-Tarski paradox, Oxford mathematician David Acheson’s book, The Wonder Book of Geometry, is a lively attempt to bring to life geometry—literally, ‘earth measurement’—and make it accessible to the general public. It has a lot of illustrations, not just of triangles, but portraits of mathematicians (like Euclid of Alexandria), maps, early […]
Blaming “the quants” for the 2008 financial crisis is simplistic and short-sighted, says the author of The Physics of Wall Street. He picks five books showing the contribution physics has made to understanding financial markets.
The British design guru on which book to buy if you want to know how to design a racing car in the 1960s style, American pop culture, modern architecture, and how “Liverpool in the 1960s was like Florence in the 1440s”
Armed with one of the ‘big histories’ currently in vogue, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and a tome about how modern maths came to be, you too can get a grip on how the world works. Tech blogger Venkatesh Rao chooses some good books for those who agree with Socrates that ‘for a human being, the unexamined life is not worth living.’
In a quest to solve every puzzle imaginable, bestselling author A.J. Jacobs came across a lot of books. Here, he recommends some of his favourites, from logic puzzles to treasure hunts, from codebreaking to the biggest puzzle of them all—why we’re here.