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New Books in Mathematics

English, Sciences, 1 season, 146 episodes, 6 days, 2 hours, 41 minutes
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Interviews with Mathematicians about their New Books Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
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Thomas A. Garrity, "All the Math You Missed (But Need to Know for Graduate School)" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

Beginning graduate students in mathematical sciences and related areas in physical and computer sciences and engineering are expected to be familiar with a daunting breadth of mathematics, but few have such a background. This bestselling book helps students fill in the gaps in their knowledge. Thomas A. Garrity explains the basic points and a few key results of all the most important undergraduate topics in mathematics, emphasizing the intuitions behind the subject. The explanations are accompanied by numerous examples, exercises and suggestions for further reading that allow the reader to test and develop their understanding of these core topics.  Featuring four new chapters and many other improvements, this second edition of All the Math You Missed (But Need to Know for Graduate School) (Cambridge UP, 2021) is an essential resource for advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students who need to learn some serious mathematics quickly. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
5/10/202450 minutes, 35 seconds
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Kevin Lambert, "Symbols and Things: Material Mathematics in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries" (U Pittsburgh Press, 2021)

The stereotype of the solitary mathematician is widespread, but practicing users and producers of mathematics know well that our work depends heavily on our historical and contemporary fellow travelers. Yet we may not appreciate how our work also extends beyond us into our physical and societal environments. Kevin Lambert takes what might be a first crack at this perspective in his book Symbols and Things: Material Mathematics in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021). An historian of science, Dr. Lambert has shifted in his view of mathematics as a language of science to one as a material practice. Expanding on ideas from historians, archeologists, philosophers, and other scholars of human activity, and through several interweaving vignettes of mathematical work during a technologically dynamic period in British history, he argues that mathematical practice, communication, and even thought occur to a large degree outside the bodies of the persons performing them. In this interview, we explore Kevin's journal to and through this book project. We discuss how such ideas as Andy Clark's extended mind informed his approach, and we review several of the lively stories—the co-creation of the long-distance mathematical community with the research journal, Peacock's museological argument for the adoption of symbolic algebra, and the foundational entanglement of electromagnetism, quaternions, and the philosophy of space, among others—he drew out of historical and archival sources. (Here i cannot resist mentioning Tait's collection of his intensive correspondence with Hamilton that transformed how quaternions were applied in physics and even conceptualized as mathematical objects.) We close with some thoughts on our own materially extended cognitive work and where Kevin's interests are currently driving him. Suggested companion works: • ChatGPT, as a cutting-edge extension of human thought • work by Courtney Ann Roby, including the forthcoming The Mechanical Tradition of Hero of Alexandria: Strategies of Reading from Antiquity to the Early Modern Period • Algorithmic Modernity: Mechanizing Thought and Action, 1500-2000, edited by Morgan G. Ames and Massimo Mazzotti • work by Emily Miller Bonney, for example "A Reconsideration of Depositional Practices in Early Bronze Age Crete" Kevin Lambert is a historian of science and mathematics in the early modern and modern periods and professor in the liberal studies department at California State University, Fullerton. His recent book Symbols and Things explores mathematics as a way of thinking outside the body and through the material environment. He also recently published a chapter in the volume Algorithmic Modernity that traces the genealogy of algorithmic practices. He is now working on the problem of writing longue durée histories of science. He is close to completing a paper called “Malthus in the Landscape” that investigates the temporalities of global histories. He is also exploring the problem of writing a global history of the early modern sciences without the prism of the so called “Scientific Revolution.” His work can be found on ResearchGate. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
4/15/20241 hour, 20 minutes, 3 seconds
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Ismar Volić, "Making Democracy Count: How Mathematics Improves Voting, Electoral Maps, and Representation" (Princeton UP, 2024)

What's the best way to determine what most voters want when multiple candidates are running? What's the fairest way to allocate legislative seats to different constituencies? What's the least distorted way to draw voting districts? Not the way we do things now. Democracy is mathematical to its very foundations. Yet most of the methods in use are a historical grab bag of the shortsighted, the cynical, the innumerate, and the outright discriminatory. Making Democracy Count: How Mathematics Improves Voting, Electoral Maps, and Representation (Princeton UP, 2024) sheds new light on our electoral systems, revealing how a deeper understanding of their mathematics is the key to creating civic infrastructure that works for everyone. In this timely guide, Ismar Volic empowers us to use mathematical thinking as an objective, nonpartisan framework that rises above the noise and rancor of today's divided public square. Examining our representative democracy using powerful clarifying concepts, Volic shows why our current voting system stifles political diversity, why the size of the House of Representatives contributes to its paralysis, why gerrymandering is a sinister instrument that entrenches partisanship and disenfranchisement, why the Electoral College must be rethought, and what can work better and why. Volic also discusses the legal and constitutional practicalities involved and proposes a road map for repairing the mathematical structures that undergird representative government. Making Democracy Count gives us the concrete knowledge and the confidence to advocate for a more just, equitable, and inclusive democracy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
2/1/202439 minutes, 40 seconds
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A Better Way to Buy Books

Bookshop.org is an online book retailer that donates more than 80% of its profits to independent bookstores. Launched in 2020, Bookshop.org has already raised more than $27,000,000. In this interview, Andy Hunter, founder and CEO discusses his journey to creating one of the most revolutionary new organizations in the book world. Bookshop has found a way to retain the convenience of online book shopping while also supporting independent bookstores that are the backbones of many local communities.  Andy Hunter is CEO and Founder of Bookshop.org. He also co-created Literary Hub. Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor of the New Books Network. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
9/12/202334 minutes, 29 seconds
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Barbara Sattler, "The Concept of Motion in Ancient Greek Thought: Foundations in Logic, Method, and Mathematics" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

Barbara M. Sattler's book The Concept of Motion in Ancient Greek Thought: Foundations in Logic, Method, and Mathematics (Cambridge UP, 2020) examines the birth of the scientific understanding of motion. It investigates which logical tools and methodological principles had to be in place to give a consistent account of motion, and which mathematical notions were introduced to gain control over conceptual problems of motion. It shows how the idea of motion raised two fundamental problems in the 5th and 4th century BCE: bringing together being and non-being, and bringing together time and space. The first problem leads to the exclusion of motion from the realm of rational investigation in Parmenides, the second to Zeno's paradoxes of motion. Methodological and logical developments reacting to these puzzles are shown to be present implicitly in the atomists, and explicitly in Plato who also employs mathematical structures to make motion intelligible. With Aristotle we finally see the first outline of the fundamental framework with which we conceptualise motion today. Professor Barbara Sattler is Chair in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy at the Ruhr University Bochum. The main area of her research is metaphysics and natural philosophy in the ancient Greek world. Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
8/28/20231 hour, 13 minutes, 18 seconds
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Lawrence Goldman, "Victorians and Numbers: Statistics and Society in Nineteenth Century Britain" (Oxford UP, 2022)

A defining feature of nineteenth-century Britain was its fascination with statistics. The processes that made Victorian society, including the growth of population, the development of industry and commerce, and the increasing competence of the state, generated profuse numerical data.  Victorians and Numbers: Statistics and Society in Nineteenth Century Britain (Oxford UP, 2022) is a study of how such data influenced every aspect of Victorian culture and thought, from the methods of natural science and the struggle against disease, to the development of social administration and the arguments and conflicts between social classes. Numbers were collected in the 1830s by newly-created statistical societies in response to this 'data revolution'. They became a regular aspect of governmental procedure thereafter, and inspired new ways of interrogating both the natural and social worlds. William Farr used them to study cholera; Florence Nightingale deployed them in campaigns for sanitary improvement; Charles Babbage was inspired to design and build his famous calculating engines to process them. The mid-Victorians employed statistics consistently to make the case for liberal reform. In later decades, however, the emergence of the academic discipline of mathematical statistics - statistics as we use them today - became associated with eugenics and a contrary social philosophy. Where earlier statisticians emphasised the unity of mankind, some later practitioners, following Francis Galton, studied variation and difference within and between groups. In chapters on learned societies, government departments, international statistical collaborations, and different Victorian statisticians, Victorians and Numbers traces the impact of numbers on the era and the intriguing relationship of Victorian statistics with 'Big Data' in our own age. Lawrence Goldman was born in London and educated at Cambridge and Yale. Following a Junior Research Fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge, he taught British and American History for three decades in Oxford, where he was a fellow of St. Peter's College, and Editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004-2014. Latterly he was Director of the Institute of Historical Research, University of London. His publications include books on Victorian social science and the history of workers' education, and a biography of the historian and political thinker R. H. Tawney. He is now Emeritus Fellow of St. Peter's College, Oxford. Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
8/25/20231 hour, 31 minutes, 47 seconds
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The Outer Limits of Reason: What Science, Mathematics, and Logic Cannot Tell Us

Many books explain what is known about the universe. This book investigates what cannot be known. Rather than exploring the amazing facts that science, mathematics, and reason have revealed to us, this work studies what science, mathematics, and reason tell us cannot be revealed. In The Outer Limits of Reason, Noson Yanofsky considers what cannot be predicted, described, or known, and what will never be understood. He discusses the limitations of computers, physics, logic, and our own thought processes. Yanofsky describes simple tasks that would take computers trillions of centuries to complete and other problems that computers can never solve; perfectly formed English sentences that make no sense; different levels of infinity; the bizarre world of the quantum; the relevance of relativity theory; the causes of chaos theory; math problems that cannot be solved by normal means; and statements that are true but cannot be proven. He explains the limitations of our intuitions about the world—our ideas about space, time, and motion, and the complex relationship between the knower and the known. Moving from the concrete to the abstract, from problems of everyday language to straightforward philosophical questions to the formalities of physics and mathematics, Yanofsky demonstrates a myriad of unsolvable problems and paradoxes. Exploring the various limitations of our knowledge, he shows that many of these limitations have a similar pattern and that by investigating these patterns, we can better understand the structure and limitations of reason itself. Yanofsky even attempts to look beyond the borders of reason to see what, if anything, is out there. Noson S. Yanofsky is Professor in the Department of Computer and Information Science at Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is a coauthor of Quantum Computing for Computer Scientists. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
7/31/202316 minutes, 54 seconds
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Athene Donald, "Not Just for the Boys: Why We Need More Women in Science" (Oxford UP, 2023)

Why are girls discouraged from doing science? Why do so many promising women leave science in early and mid-career? Why do women not prosper in the scientific workforce? Not Just for the Boys: Why We Need More Women in Science (Oxford UP, 2023) looks back at how society has historically excluded women from the scientific sphere and discourse, what progress has been made, and how more is still needed. Athene Donald, herself a distinguished physicist, explores societal expectations during both childhood and working life using evidence of the systemic disadvantages women operate under, from the developing science of how our brains are―and more importantly aren't―gendered, to social science evidence around attitudes towards girls and women doing science. It also discusses how science is done in practice, in order to dispel common myths: for example, the perception that science is not creative, or that it is carried out by a lone genius in an ivory tower, myths that can be very off-putting to many sections of the population. A better appreciation of the collaborative, creative, and multi-disciplinary nature of science is likely to lead to its appeal to a far wider swathe of people, especially women. This book examines the modern way of working in scientific research, and how gender bias operates in various ways within it, drawing on the voices of leading women in science describing their feelings and experiences. It argues the moral and business case for greater diversity in modern research, the better to improve science and tackle the great challenges we face today. Athene Donald is Professor Emerita in Experimental Physics and Master of Churchill College, University of Cambridge. Other than four years postdoctoral research in the USA, she has spent her career in Cambridge, specializing in soft matter physics and physics at the interface with biology. She was the University of Cambridge's first Gender Equality Champion, and has been involved in numerous initiatives concerning women in science. She was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1999 and appointed DBE for services to Physics in 2010. Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
6/7/202336 minutes, 45 seconds
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Justin L. Bergner, "Solving the Price Is Right: How Mathematics Can Improve Your Decisions On and Off the Set of America's Celebrated Game Show" (Prometheus Books, 2023)

The Price is Right is television's longest-running game show. Since its inception in 1956, contestants have won cars, tropical vacations, diamond jewelry, even a live horse, and the hosts' excited catchphrase "come on down!" has become part of our everyday vernacular. Part of the program's enduring appeal is the apparent ease of the game, guessing the cash value of certain prizes. But, if that's the case, then why do so many contestants come away from the show empty-handed? Solving The Price is Right (Prometheus Books, 2023) is an in-depth exploration of the underlying probability theory of the popular television program that explores how biases and behavioral pitfalls limit our ability to successfully apply logic and math both on and off the show.  With rigorous data and analysis compiled from Seasons 47 and 48 (356 total episodes), investor and math practitioner Justin L. Bergner draws strategic and mathematical insights from all facets of the show, from Contestant's Row bidding to the Showcase Showdown, and all 77 Pricing Games, using a combination of game theory, probability theory, statistics, and pattern recognition. In each section, Bergner summarizes contestant performance, highlights the biases leading to sub-par outcomes, and shows how outcomes can be improved by executing the right strategies while avoiding cognitive biases. Throughout, Bergner applies the lessons learned to the fields of business, finance, and our real lives, shedding light on themes of reverse psychology, strategic patience, and the importance of establishing what is sufficient for success in our pursuits. The result is a truly unique and meticulously researched book that uses Solving The Price is Right as a lens to examine our own choices - and how to make better ones. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
4/19/202354 minutes, 12 seconds
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Shelly M. Jones, "Women Who Count: Honoring African American Women Mathematicians" (American Mathematical Society, 2019)

African-Americans and women are increasingly visible in professional mathematical institutions, organizations, and literature, expanding our mental models of the mathematics community. Yet early representation also matters: We begin building these models as soon as we begin seeing and doing mathematics, and they can be slow to adapt. In her wonderful activity book Women Who Count: Honoring African American Women Mathematicians (MAA Press, 2019), Dr. Shelly Jones invites children, and their parents and educators, to immerse themselves in the lives and deeds of Black women mathematicians. The 29 profiles trace back to "the Firsts" in their fields, such as early PhD awardee Evelyn Boyd Granville; the "Pioneers" of emerging fields and programs, including ethnomathematics co-founder Gloria Gilmer; through "Unhidden Figures" like Dorothy Johnson Vaughan of recent biopic fame; and to "Contemporary Firsts" who are living, working, and opening new doors today. Along with their mathematical contributions, Dr. Jones shares details of these mathematicians' early lives, their hobbies and interests, and how they have been shaped by and in turn shaped their communities. Each mini-biography introduces a whole person whom readers new to mathematics can relate to and be inspired by. Each profile is accompanied by a pencil-and-paper activity that brings to life the some part of their story. Some are classics, including word searches and I-Spy, while others introduce readers to mathematical and educational concepts explored by their subjects—coloring tessellations, for example, or solving equations to decode messages. The text and activities are targeted to grades 3–8, and are ideal for elementary and middle school classrooms. In our conversation, Dr. Jones described how she conceived the book, assembled the stories and activities, and connected with illustrator Veronica Martins. I came away with a richer perspective on the state of the field for aspiring mathematicians—in addition to a perfect gift for my second-grade nephew. Suggested companion works: Mathematicians of the African Diaspora Mathematically Gifted and Black Mathematician Project Lathisms We are Indigenous Mathematicians Black Girl MATHgic Talitha Washington Dr. Shelly M. Jones is a Professor of Mathematics Education at Central Connecticut State University. She has been an educator for 30 years and currently teaches undergraduate mathematics content and methods courses for pre-service teachers as well as graduate level mathematics content, curriculum and STEM courses for in-service teachers. Dr. Jones serves her community by working with various professional and community organizations. You can see her CCSU TEDx talk on YouTube where she talks about culturally relevant mathematics. She is also a contributing author to The Brilliance of Black Children in Mathematics: Beyond the Numbers and Toward a New Discourse and co-author of Engaging in Culturally Relevant Math Tasks: Fostering Hope. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
4/16/202356 minutes, 51 seconds
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Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire and A Prime Number Conspiracy

On this episode of the MIT Press podcast, Thomas Lin, Editor-in-Chief of Quanta Magazine, discusses the research and current climate behind the science and math in Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire: The Biggest Ideas in Science from Quanta and The Prime Number Conspiracy: The Biggest Ideas in Math from Quanta.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
4/15/202320 minutes, 55 seconds
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Jeffrey Carpenter and Andrea Robbett, "Game Theory and Behavior" (MIT Press, 2022)

Jeffrey Carpenter and Andrea Robbett's book Game Theory and Behavior (MIT Press, 2022) is an introduction to game theory that offers not only theoretical tools but also the intuition and behavioral insights to apply these tools to real-world situations. This introductory text on game theory provides students with both the theoretical tools to analyze situations through the logic of game theory and the intuition and behavioral insights to apply these tools to real-world situations. It is unique among game theory texts in offering a clear, formal introduction to standard game theory while incorporating evidence from experimental data and introducing recent behavioral models. Students will not only learn about incentives, how to represent situations as games, and what agents “should” do in these situations, but they will also be presented with evidence that either confirms the theoretical assumptions or suggests a way in which the theory might be updated. Jeffrey Carpenter is the James Jermain Professor of Political Economy at Middlebury College. His research interests include Experimental and Behavioral Economics with applications to Labor, Public and Development Economics. While pursuing these interests he has conducted lab and field experiments in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Andrea Robbett is an Associate Professor of Economics at Middlebury College. Her research uses laboratory experiments to test canonical theoretical models, new ideas, and conventional wisdom. Her work has addressed topics in public economics, labor, voting, information avoidance, financial decision-making and "attribute overload," trust and cooperation, and auctions. Peter Lorentzen is economics professor at the University of San Francisco. He heads USF's Applied Economics Master's program, which focuses on the digital economy. His research is mainly on China's political economy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
1/14/202323 minutes, 55 seconds
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James D. Stein, "Seduced by Mathematics: The Enduring Fascination of Mathematics" (World Scientific, 2022) Math

Seduction is not just an end result, but a process -- and in mathematics, both the end results and the process by which those end results are achieved are often charming and elegant.This helps to explain why so many people -- not just those for whom math plays a key role in their day-to-day lives -- have found mathematics so seductive. Math is unique among all subjects in that it contains end results of amazing insight and power, and lines of reasoning that are clever, charming, and elegant. James D. Stein's Seduced by Mathematics: The Enduring Fascination of Mathematics (World Scientific, 2022) is a collection of those results and lines of reasoning that make us say, 'OMG, that's just amazing, ' -- because that's what mathematics is to those who love it. In addition, some of the stories about mathematical discoveries and the people who discovered them are every bit as fascinating as the discoveries themselves. Seduced by Mathematics contains material capable of being appreciated by students in elementary school -- as well as some material that will probably be new to even the more mathematically sophisticated. Most of the book can be easily understood by those whose only math courses are algebra and geometry, and who may have missed the magic, enchantment, and wonder that is the special province of mathematics. James D. Stein is a professor emeritus of mathematics at Cal State Long Beach. Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor of the New Books Network (Twitter: @caleb_zakarin). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
12/19/20221 hour, 26 minutes, 38 seconds
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John Allen Paulos, "Who's Counting?: Uniting Numbers and Narratives with Stories from Pop Culture, Puzzles, Politics, and More" (Prometheus, 2022)

Innumeracy, by John Allen Paulos, was first published in 1988. In it the author brilliantly highlighted many of the sorry truths those of us who teach math and science know – not only can’t most people do algebra or geometry, they can’t estimate size, they don’t understand simple probability and statistics, and they believe in things that make no sense. In Who’s Counting? (Prometheus, 2022), Paulos investigates topics which – like Innumeracy – connect with the age in which we live. Who's Counting? features dozens of his insightful essays-original writings on contemporary issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, online conspiracy theories, "fake news," and climate change, as well as a selection of enduring columns from his popular ABC News column of the same name. With an abiding respect for reason, a penchant for puzzles with societal implications, and a disarming sense of humor, Paulos does in this collection what he's famous for: clarifies mathematical ideas for everyone and shows how they play a role in government, media, popular culture, and life. He argues that if we can't critically interpret numbers and statistics, we lose one of our most basic and reliable guides to reality. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
12/18/202258 minutes, 31 seconds
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Alfred S. Posamentier, "The Secret Lives of Numbers: Numerals and Their Peculiarities in Mathematics and Beyond" (Prometheus Books, 2022)

Alfred S. Posamentier's The Secret Lives of Numbers: Numerals and Their Peculiarities in Mathematics and Beyond (Prometheus Books, 2022) is the first book I’ve ever seen written by a mathematician that will absolutely, definitely, certainly appeal to people who love numbers and who don’t love mathematics. I would urge all listeners to tell everyone they know who has a fascination with numbers to listen to this podcast, especially if they don’t love mathematics because they will definitely love this book. Hopefully the love of numbers will translate into an appreciation of mathematics -- if not for them, then for their children. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
11/23/202254 minutes, 58 seconds
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Probability

In this episode of High Theory, Justin Joque talks with Júlia Irion Martins about Probability. This conversation is part of our High Theory in STEM series, which tackles topics in science, technology, engineering, and medicine from a highly theoretical perspective. If you want to learn more about the philosophical, technical, and economic implications of probability, check out Justin’s new book, Revolutionary Mathematics: Artificial Intelligence, Statistics, and the Logic of Capitalism (Verso, 2022). Justin Joque is a visualization librarian at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Justin’s research focuses on philosophy, media, and technology and he is also the author of Deconstruction Machines: Writing in the Age of Cyberwar (University of Minnesota Press, 2018). Image: © 2022 Saronik Bosu Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
11/22/202218 minutes, 15 seconds
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Alexandr Draganov, "Mathematical Tools for Real-World Applications: A Gentle Introduction for Students and Practitioners" (MIT Press, 2022)

I’ve never read a book like Mathematical Tools for Real-World Applications: A Gentle Introduction for Students and Practitioners (MIT Press, 2022) – it’s a book about how engineers and scientists see math, and I found it fascinating. What intrigued me about this book was not that it just presents and solves a bunch of interesting problems, it shows how scientists and engineers differ in their approach to problem solving from mathematicians. Shame on me, but as a mathematician, I’ve always been a little uncomfortable with the way engineers and scientists use mathematics. I wish I’d seen this book when I was in college, I’d have done a lot better in my physics courses. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
11/11/202254 minutes, 50 seconds
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Andrew Fiss, "Performing Math: A History of Communication and Anxiety in the American Mathematics Classroom" (Rutgers UP, 2020)

Performing Math: A History of Communication and Anxiety in the American Mathematics Classroom (Rutgers University Press, 2020) by Dr. Andrew Fiss tells the history of expectations for math communication—and the conversations about math hatred and math anxiety that occurred in response. Focusing on nineteenth-century American colleges, this book analyzes foundational tools and techniques of math communication: the textbooks that supported reading aloud, the burnings that mimicked pedagogical speech, the blackboards that accompanied oral presentations, the plays that proclaimed performers’ identities as math students, and the written tests that redefined “student performance.” Math communication and math anxiety went hand in hand as new rules for oral communication at the blackboard inspired student revolt and as frameworks for testing student performance inspired performance anxiety. With unusual primary sources from over a dozen educational archives, Performing Math argues for a new, performance-oriented history of American math education, one that can explain contemporary math attitudes and provide a way forward to reframing the problem of math anxiety. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
11/9/202244 minutes, 46 seconds
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David Kaiser, "Well, Doc, You're In: Freeman Dyson’s Journey through the Universe" (MIT Press, 2022)

Freeman Dyson (1923–2020)—renowned scientist, visionary, and iconoclast—helped invent modern physics. Not bound by disciplinary divisions, he went on to explore foundational topics in mathematics, astrophysics, and the origin of life. General readers were introduced to Dyson’s roving mind and heterodox approach in his 1979 book Disturbing the Universe, a poignant autobiographical reflection on life and science.  "Well, Doc, You're In": Freeman Dyson’s Journey through the Universe (MIT Press, 2022) (the title quotes Richard Feynman’s remark to Dyson at a physics conference) offers a fresh examination of Dyson’s life and work, exploring his particular way of thinking about deep questions that range from the nature of matter to the ultimate fate of the universe. The chapters—written by leading scientists, historians, and science journalists, including some of Dyson’s colleagues—trace Dyson’s formative years, his budding interests and curiosities, and his wide-ranging work across the natural sciences, technology, and public policy. They describe Dyson’s innovations at the intersection of quantum theory and relativity, his novel nuclear reactor design (and his never-realized idea of a spacecraft powered by nuclear weapons), his years at the Institute for Advanced Study, and his foray into cosmology. In the coda, Dyson’s daughter Esther reflects on growing up in the Dyson household. “Well, Doc, You’re In” assesses Dyson’s successes, blind spots, and influence, assembling a portrait of a scientist’s outsized legacy. Contributors: Jeremy Bernstein, Robbert Dijkgraaf, Esther Dyson, George Dyson, Ann Finkbeiner, Amanda Gefter, Ashutosh Jogalekar, David Kaiser, Caleb Scharf, William Thomas. Matthew Jordan is a university instructor, funk musician, and clear writing enthusiast. He studies the history of science and technology, driven by the belief that we must understand the past in order to improve the future. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
11/2/20221 hour, 10 minutes, 10 seconds
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John Stillwell, "The Story of Proof: Logic and the History of Mathematics" (Princeton UP, 2022)

The Story of Proof: Logic and the History of Mathematics (Princeton UP, 2022) investigates the evolution of the concept of proof--one of the most significant and defining features of mathematical thought--through critical episodes in its history. From the Pythagorean theorem to modern times, and across all major mathematical disciplines, John Stillwell demonstrates that proof is a mathematically vital concept, inspiring innovation and playing a critical role in generating knowledge. Stillwell begins with Euclid and his influence on the development of geometry and its methods of proof, followed by algebra, which began as a self-contained discipline but later came to rival geometry in its mathematical impact. In particular, the infinite processes of calculus were at first viewed as "infinitesimal algebra," and calculus became an arena for algebraic, computational proofs rather than axiomatic proofs in the style of Euclid. Stillwell proceeds to the areas of number theory, non-Euclidean geometry, topology, and logic, and peers into the deep chasm between natural number arithmetic and the real numbers. In its depths, Cantor, Gödel, Turing, and others found that the concept of proof is ultimately part of arithmetic. This startling fact imposes fundamental limits on what theorems can be proved and what problems can be solved. This book could well serve as a history of mathematics, because in developing the evolution of the concept of proof and how it has arisen in the various different mathematical fields. The author essentially traces the important milestones in the development of mathematics. It's an amazing job of collecting and categorizing many of the most important ideas in this area. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
10/31/202257 minutes, 58 seconds
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Alberto Cairo, "How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter about Visual Information" (Norton, 2019)

We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, but what if we don’t understand what we’re looking at? Social media has made charts, infographics, and diagrams ubiquitous―and easier to share than ever. We associate charts with science and reason; the flashy visuals are both appealing and persuasive. Pie charts, maps, bar and line graphs, and scatter plots (to name a few) can better inform us, revealing patterns and trends hidden behind the numbers we encounter in our lives. In short, good charts make us smarter―if we know how to read them. However, they can also lead us astray. Charts lie in a variety of ways―displaying incomplete or inaccurate data, suggesting misleading patterns, and concealing uncertainty―or are frequently misunderstood, such as the confusing cone of uncertainty maps shown on TV every hurricane season. To make matters worse, many of us are ill-equipped to interpret the visuals that politicians, journalists, advertisers, and even our employers present each day, enabling bad actors to easily manipulate them to promote their own agendas. In How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter about Visual Information (W. W. Norton, 2019), data visualization expert Alberto Cairo teaches us to not only spot the lies in deceptive visuals, but also to take advantage of good ones to understand complex stories. Public conversations are increasingly propelled by numbers, and to make sense of them we must be able to decode and use visual information. By examining contemporary examples ranging from election-result infographics to global GDP maps and box-office record charts, How Charts Lie demystifies an essential new literacy, one that will make us better equipped to navigate our data-driven world. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
9/23/202257 minutes, 32 seconds
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Karen Hunger Parshall, "The New Era in American Mathematics, 1920–1950" (Princeton UP, 2022)

In The New Era in American Mathematics, 1920-1950 (Princeton University Press, 2022) Karen Parshall explores the institutional, financial, social, and political forces that shaped and supported the American Mathematics community in the first half of the twentieth century. Drawing from extensive archival and primary-source research, Professor Parshall uncovers the key players in American mathematics who worked together to effect change. She highlights the educational, professional, philanthropic, and governmental entities that bolstered progress and uncovers the strategies implemented by American mathematicians in their quest for the advancement of knowledge. Through an examination of how the American Mathematical community asserted itself on the international state, The New Era in Mathematics, 1920-1950 shows the way one nation became the focal point for the field. Karen Hunger Parshall is the Commonwealth Professor of History and Mathematics at the University of Virginia. She is the author of James Joseph Sylvester: Jewish Mathematician in a Victorian World and the coauthor of Taming the Unknown: A History of Algebra from Antiquity to the Early Twentieth Century. Marc Goulet is Professor in mathematics and Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
9/12/20221 hour, 10 minutes, 22 seconds
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Peter Winkler, "Mathematical Puzzles" (A K Peters, 2020)

Peter Winkler has been collecting mathematical puzzles since childhood. He has had published two previous collections, and recently he compiled his largest curated collection to date. Mathematical Puzzles (A K Peters, 2021) also takes an alluring new approach to the genre: In the Roman-numbered front matter, 300+ puzzles are presented, roughly in order of increasing difficulty. Fuller discussions of the puzzles are then organized into 24 chapters according to the key insight that leads to their solutions. Each insight gets a brief mathematical treatment, and by the end of each chapter the reader is primed to appreciate an important and kindred mathematical result. In our interview, Dr. Winkler walked me through a handful of puzzles from two chapters. The first, "The Law of Small Numbers", gives a tongue-in-cheek name to the strategy of gaining insight from a smaller version of a larger problem. The puzzles lead up to a discussion of perfect matchings, whose small-number analogues reveal an elegant geometric solution. The second, "Infinite Choice", begins with some variations on hat-guessing puzzles, which turn out to admit surprisingly powerful strategies even among infinitudes of players! The chapter closes with an accessible peek at graph coloring problems. The book is delightfully designed with playful header fonts and illustrations by cartoonist Jess Johnson, through an equally delightful collaboration we took a moment to discuss. As Dr. Winkler aimed, i believe the book will appeal both to the puzzle enthusiast with a limited background in mathematics and to the mathematics enthusiast who, like myself, never really took to puzzles—as well, of course, to those dual enthusiasts whom the author epitomizes. Suggested companion works: How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method by Georg Pólya Martin Gardner’s Mathematical Games: The Entire Collection of his Scientific American Columns  Peter Winkler is the William Morrill Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Dartmouth College and, for 2019–2020, the Distinguished Visiting Professor for the Public Dissemination of Mathematics at the National Museum of Mathematics. He is the author of 160 research papers, a dozen patents, two previous puzzle books, a book on cryptographic techniques in the game of bridge, and a portfolio of compositions for ragtime piano. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
8/23/20221 hour, 10 minutes, 58 seconds
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Brian Cafarella, "Community College Mathematics: Past, Present, and Future" (CRC Press, 2022)

In Community College Mathematics: Past, Present, and Future (CRC Press, 2022), Brian Cafarella addresses the key questions: How can we build a future model for community college gatekeeper math classes that is both successful and sustainable? Additionally, how can we learn from the past and the present to build such a model? From the 1970’s to the pandemic in the early 2020’s, the book uses interviews with 30 community college faculty members from seven community colleges to explore math curricula as well as trends, initiatives, teaching practices, and mandates that have impacted community college mathematics. Brian Cafarella is a professor in mathematics at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. He has taught a variety of courses ranging from developmental math through pre-calculus. Brian is a past recipient of the Roeche Award for teaching excellence and a past recipient of the Ohio Magazine Award for excellence in education. Marc Goulet is Professor in mathematics and Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
8/23/20221 hour, 7 minutes, 25 seconds
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Joseph Mileti, "Modern Mathematical Logic" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

Today I had the pleasure of talking to Joe Mileti, associate professor of mathematics at Grinnell College. Even if you are not "into" math, you will enjoy this conversation. We talked about how math is not what you think it is. It's not just memorizing formulas and grinding. It's about thinking and, like all thinking, it involves abstraction, logic, using analogies and metaphors, and a bunch of imagination. We also talked about how math is about talking to other mathematicians and doing a kind of "brainstorming."  Joes's new book is Modern Mathematical Logic (Cambridge UP, 2022). Marshall Poe is the founder and editor of the New Books Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
8/15/202247 minutes, 51 seconds
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Ronald Meester and Klaas Slooten, "Probability and Forensic Evidence: Theory, Philosophy, and Applications" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

In Probability and Forensic Evidence: Theory, Philosophy, and Applications (Cambridge UP, 2021), Ronald Meester and Klaas Slooten address the role of statistics and probability in the evaluation of forensic evidence, including both theoretical issues and applications in legal contexts. It discusses what evidence is and how it can be quantified, how it should be understood, and how it is applied (and, sometimes misapplied). Ronald Meester is Professor in probability theory at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He is co-author of the books Continuum Percolation (1996), A Natural Introduction to Probability Theory (2003), Random Networks for Communication (2008), and has written around 120 research papers on topics including percolation theory, ergodic theory, philosophy of science, and forensic probability. Klaas Slooten works as Statistician at the Netherlands Forensic Institute and at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam where he is Professor by special appointment. He as published around 30 articles on forensic probability and statistics. He is interested in the mathematical, legal, and philosophical evaluation of evidence. Marc Goulet is Professor in mathematics and Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
8/9/20221 hour, 2 minutes, 55 seconds
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Andrew Witt, "Formulations: Architecture, Mathematics, Culture" (MIT Press, 2022)

In Formulations: Architecture, Mathematics, Culture (MIT Press, 2022), Andrew Witt examines the visual, methodological, and cultural intersections between architecture and mathematics. The linkages Witt explores involve not the mystic transcendence of numbers invoked throughout architectural history, but rather architecture’s encounters with a range of calculational systems—techniques that architects inventively retooled for design. Witt offers a catalog of mid-twentieth-century practices of mathematical drawing and calculation in design that preceded and anticipated digitization as well as an account of the formal compendia that became a cultural currency shared between modern mathematicians and modern architects. Witt presents a series of extensively illustrated “biographies of method”—episodes that chart the myriad ways in which mathematics, particularly the mathematical notion of modeling and drawing, was spliced into the creative practice of design. These include early drawing machines that mechanized curvature; the incorporation of geometric maquettes—“theorems made flesh”—into the toolbox of design; the virtualization of buildings and landscapes through surveyed triangulation and photogrammetry; formal and functional topology; stereoscopic drawing; the economic implications of cubic matrices; and a strange synthesis of the technological, mineral, and biological: crystallographic design. Trained in both architecture and mathematics, Witt uses mathematics as a lens through which to understand the relationship between architecture and a much broader set of sciences and visual techniques. Through an intercultural exchange with other disciplines, he argues, architecture adapted not only the shapes and surfaces of mathematics but also its values and epistemic ideals. Bryan Toepfer, AIA, NCARB, CAPM is the Principal Architect for TOEPFER Architecture, PLLC, an Architecture firm specializing in Residential Architecture and Virtual Reality. He has authored two books, “Contractors CANNOT Build Your House,” and “Six Months Now, ARCHITECT for Life.” He is an Assistant Professor at Alfred State College and has served as the Director of Government Affairs and as the Director of Education for the AIA Rochester Board of Directors. Always eager to help anyone understand the world of Architecture, he hosts the New Books Network – Architecture podcast, is an NCARB Licensing Advisor and helps coach candidates taking the Architectural Registration Exam. btoepfer@toepferarchitecture Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
7/8/202218 minutes, 53 seconds
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Scott Gehlbach, "Formal Models of Domestic Politics" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

Formal mathematical models have provided tremendous insights into politics in recent decades. Formal Models of Domestic Politics (Cambridge UP, 2021) is the leading graduate textbook covering the crucial models that underpin current theoretical and empirical research on politics by both economists and political scientists. This textbook was recently updated to reflect the wealth of new theory-building around the functioning of authoritarian regimes, as well as to include recent developments in the theory of electoral competition, delegation, legislative bargaining, and collective action. Author Scott Gehlbach is a professor at the University of Chicago, where he is the director of their new PhD program in Political Economy. He is a widely published political economist, with influential articles published in both economics and political science journal as well as two other books. Scott also has a regional specialty in the politics of Russia, Ukraine, and other postcommunist countries. In our interview, we discuss what formal models are, how they work, and illustrates their usefulness with several examples. We also speak briefly at the end about current Russian politics and the ideas he outlined in his February Washington Post Monkey Cage blog piece on the implications of the invasion of Ukraine. Host Peter Lorentzen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of San Francisco, where he leads a new Master's program in Applied Economics focused on the digital economy. His own research focus is the political economy of governance in China. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
6/30/202250 minutes, 41 seconds
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Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, "Don't Trust Your Gut: Using Data to Get What You Really Want in LIfe" (Dey Street Books, 2022)

Today I talked to Seth Stephens-Davidowitz about his new book Don't Trust Your Gut: Using Data to Get What You Really Want in LIfe (Dey Street Books, 2022) Looking for advice on how to get a date, how to have a successful marriage, or just how to have a happier life? Don’t trust your gut, don’t trust conventional wisdom, and put down that self-help book full of plausible arguments and compelling anecdotes that just happens to contradict the advice you got from the self-help book you. Instead, let Seth Stephens-Davidowitz guide you, using data! Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is a data scientist, author, keynote speaker, and recovering economist. His first book Everybody Lies, was a New York Times bestseller that showed how social scientists have used new data about our online behavior to gain new insights about who we really are and what we really think. His latest book, Don’t Trust Your Gut, is about how we can use data not just to understand other people but also how to get what we want in life, whether it’s health, wealth, attractiveness, or inner peace. Host Peter Lorentzen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of San Francisco, where he leads a new Master's program in Applied Economics focused on the digital economy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
6/22/20221 hour, 20 seconds
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Robert-Jan Smits and Rachael Pells, "Plan S for Shock: Science. Shock. Solution. Speed." (Ubiquity Press, 2022)

Plan S: the open access initiative that changed the face of global research.  Robert-Jan Smits and Rachael Pells's book Plan S for Shock: Science. Shock. Solution. Speed. (Ubiquity Press, 2022) tells the story of open access publishing - why it matters now, and for the future. In a world where information has never been so accessible, and answers are available at the touch of a fingertip, we are hungrier for the facts than ever before - something the Covid-19 crisis has brought to light. And yet, paywalls put in place by multi-billion dollar publishing houses are still preventing millions from accessing quality, scientific knowledge - and public trust in science is under threat. On 4 September 2018, a bold new initiative known as 'Plan S' was unveiled, kickstarting a world-wide shift in attitudes towards open access research. For the first time, funding agencies across continents joined forces to impose new rules on the publication of research, with the aim of one day making all research free and available to all. What followed was a debate of global proportions, as stakeholders asked: Who has the right to access publicly-funded research? Will it ever be possible to enforce change on a multi-billion dollar market dominated by five major players? Here, the scheme's founder, Robert-Jan Smits, makes a compelling case for Open Access, and reveals for the first time how he set about turning his controversial plan into reality - as well as some of the challenges faced along the way. In telling his story, Smits argues that the Covid-19 crisis has exposed the traditional academic publishing system as unsustainable. Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
6/21/20221 hour, 2 minutes, 21 seconds
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Nikita Braguinski, "Mathematical Music: From Antiquity to Music AI" (Focal Press, 2022)

What is mathematical music? In Mathematical Music from Antiquity to AI (Routledge, 2022), musicologist Nikita Braguinski discusses how mathematics has historically been used to make music, how it continues to influence musical composition, and the ways in which it may influence music in the future, including through artificial intelligence (AI). From pre-historic sounds to Gregorian chant to jazz to rock and beyond, from Mozart to M.C. Hammer, from the definition of an interval to time signatures to what gives human music its “soul,” Braguinski, a 2019-2020 Harvard University Music Department fellow, takes us on a fascinating journey. David Hamilton Golland is professor of history and immediate past president of the faculty senate at Governors State University in Chicago's southland. @DHGolland. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
6/9/20221 hour, 6 minutes, 1 second
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Mindy Capaldi, "Teaching Mathematics Through Games" (American Mathematical Society, 2021)

Games are an established aide in pre-college mathematics education. Meanwhile, innumerable popular books have investigated the mathematics of games. In a new edited volume for the AMS/MAA Classroom Resource Materials Series, topologist and NSF educational program director Mindy Capaldi and contributors join advanced topics with innovative lesson designs in possibly the first book of game-based mathematics education for college curricula. Teaching Mathematics Through Games (MAA Press, 2020) comprises lesson material for the full breadth of coursework taken by math students involving just as diverse and often surprising a breadth of games. I've become interested in how edited collections come about, especially in mathematics, so i took some time at the start to ask Dr. Capaldi about the conception and production of this project. We then discussed a selection of six of the book's seventeen chapters that offer a sense of its scope and a taste of its value. To touch briefly on some chapters we did not discuss: Christine Latulippe use the combinatorial format of Sudoku and dates in the history of mathematics to practice converting between numeration systems; and Jacob Heidenreich adapts the game play of Battleship to hone students' understanding of properties of functions. In addition to a detailed description of game play and how it ties in to the topic, each chapter contains exercises, problems, or activities that build upon the core lesson, and an online supplement provides material to support the lessons in practice. The book is designed specifically for instructors and provides rich material for an active learning curriculum, but avid and curious gamers and math geeks will also find much to enjoy. Suggested companion works: MAA Instructional Practices Guide Gathering 4 Gardner Mindy Capaldi is an Associate Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Valparaiso University in Indiana. She completed her Ph.D. at North Carolina State University in 2010 and is currently on a leave of absence as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation. Cory Brunson is an Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. His research focuses on geometric and topological approaches to the analysis of medical and healthcare data. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
5/10/202251 minutes, 8 seconds
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Dashun Wang and Albert-László Barabási, "The Science of Science" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

Listen to this interview of Dashun Wang, Professor at the Kellogg School of Management and McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University, and also with Albert-László Barabási, Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science and Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University. We talk about their new book The Science of Science" (Cambridge UP, 2021) and science, squared. Albert-László Barabási : "There is, of course, the need that you grow professionally. If you're a mathematician, you need to perfect your math. If you're a physicist, you need to do your physics. If you're a biologist, you need to develop your lab techniques. But no matter the magnitude of any discovery you might make, it's not impactful unless you can actually communicate it. And I think that this is where science lacks significantly. I would even go so far as to say, there is a counter-selection: People who are not necessarily the best communicators tend to prefer science because there's the impression that that is not the skill that you need — you just need to be able to solve problems in a meaningful way. But if you're not able to write your ideas down, if you're not able to share your ideas with your community, then it's really as if you didn't have the ideas at all. And you know, I have experienced this in my own career. When I got interested in network science back in 1994/95, for the first few years my papers got rejected one after the other, and not because it wasn't good science (as I would later realize) — no, my papers were getting rejected because I could not communicate to the community at large and to my referees in particular why we should care about networks. And it took me about five years to find the way into people's minds, to learn how they write papers about networks. I needed to learn the hard way about how the community of scientists appreciated and did not appreciate research on networks. And it took me so long because I'd never been offered the opportunity to study the communication of science." Watch Daniel edit your science here. Contact Daniel at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
4/13/20221 hour, 1 minute, 5 seconds
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Hilary Glasman-Deal, "Science Research Writing For Native and Non-Native Speakers of English" (World Scientific Publishing Europe, 2020)

Listen to this interview of Hilary Glasman-Deal, teacher of STEMM communication at the Centre for Academic English, Imperial College London, and author ofScience Research Writing For Native and Non-Native Speakers of English (World Scientific Publishing Europe, 2020). We talk about researching, reading, and writing. Hilary Glasman-Deal : "One of the things I'm very often saying, particularly with early-career researchers, is this: 'Look, your reading is clearly effective, because you understand your field, okay, and you're an expert in your field. But your writing is operating at a different location from your reading. And what you need to be doing is bringing the two closer together so that they are, in a sense, a mirror image of each other, so that you're using your reading to feed your writing. You're using the reading as a bridge into the writing, rather than assuming that the two can exist in separate orbits.'" Visit the Centre for Academic English here. Watch Daniel edit your science here. Contact Daniel at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
3/31/20221 hour, 6 minutes, 33 seconds
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Thomas Haigh and Paul E. Ceruzzi, "A New History of Modern Computing" (MIT Press, 2021)

In A New History of Modern Computing (MIT Press, 2021), Thomas Haigh and Paul Ceruzzi trace changes leading to the computer becoming a ubiquitous technology. Over the past fifty years, the computer has been transformed from a hulking scientific super tool and data processing workhorse, remote from the experiences of ordinary people to a diverse family of devices that billions rely on to play games, shop, stream music, and movies, communicate, and count their steps. A comprehensive reimagining of Ceruzzi's A History of Modern Computing, this new volume uses each chapter to recount one such transformation, describing how a particular community of users and producers remade the computer into something new. Haigh and Ceruzzi ground their accounts of these computing revolutions in the longer and deeper history of computing technology. They begin with the story of the 1945 ENIAC computer, which introduced the vocabulary of "programs" and "programming," and proceed through email, pocket calculators, personal computers, the World Wide Web, videogames, smartphones, and our current world of computers everywhere--in phones, cars, appliances, watches, and more. Finally, they consider the Tesla Model S as an object that simultaneously embodies many strands of computing. Dr. Thomas Haigh is a Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Comenius Visiting Professor at Siegen University. He has been researching the history of computing for more than twenty years and is a past chair of SIGCIS, the group for historians of information technology. He is the lead author, with Mark Priestley and Crispin Rope, of ENIAC in Action: Making and Remaking the Modern Computer, about the design, construction, and use of the first general-purpose programmable electronic computer, the ENIAC. His new book, with Paul Ceruzzi, is New History of Modern Computing: a comprehensive history of computing from ENIAC to the Covid-19 pandemic. Austin Clyde is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago Department of Computer Science. He researches artificial intelligence and high-performance computing for developing new scientific methods. He is also a visiting research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Science, Technology, and Society program, where my research addresses the intersection of artificial intelligence, human rights, and democracy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
3/30/202249 minutes, 16 seconds
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Scott Timcke, "Algorithms and the End of Politics: How Technology Shapes 21st-Century American Life" (Bristol UP, 2021)

As the US contends with issues of populism and de-democratization, this timely study considers the impacts of digital technologies on the country’s politics and society. In Algorithms and the End of Politics: How Technology Shapes 21st-Century American Life (Bristol University Press, 2021), Dr. Scott Timcke provides a Marxist analysis of the rise of digital media, social networks and technology giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. He looks at the impact of these new platforms and technologies on their users who have made them among the most valuable firms in the world. Offering bold new thinking across data politics and digital and economic sociology, this is a powerful demonstration of how algorithms have come to shape everyday life and political legitimacy in the US and beyond. Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University. His most recent research, “The Queen and Her Royal Court: A Content Analysis of Doing Gender at a Tulip Queen Pageant,” was published in Gender Issues Journal. He researches culture, social identity, placemaking, and media representations of social life at festivals and celebrations. He is currently working on a book titled Community Media Representations of Place and Identity at Tug Fest: Reconstructing the Mississippi River. You can learn more about Dr. Johnston on his website, Google Scholar, on Twitter @ProfessorJohnst, or by email at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
3/28/202255 minutes, 58 seconds
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N. J. Enfield, "Language Vs. Reality: Why Language Is Good for Lawyers and Bad for Scientists" (MIT Press, 2022)

Nick Enfield’s book, Language vs. Reality: Why Language is Good for Lawyers and Bad for Scientists (MIT Press, 2022), argues that language is primarily for social coordination, not precisely transferring thoughts from one person to another. Drawing on empirical research, Enfield shows that human lexicons the world over are far more coarse-grained than our perceptual faculties. Yet, at the same time, languages vary in the structure and sophistication of their representations. This means that, for instance, how different languages carve up the world influences not only how their speakers talk about the world, but also how they think about it. The book explores a range of linguistic phenomena, from lexical diversity to linguistic framing to the effects of narrative. As a result of understanding how language shapes our understanding of reality, Enfield argues that we can make more informed—and more ethical—decisions about our own language use, as individuals and communities. Malcolm Keating is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Yale-NUS College. His research focuses on Sanskrit philosophy of language and epistemology. He is the author of Language, Meaning, and Use in Indian Philosophy (Bloomsbury Press, 2019) and host of the podcast Sutras (and stuff). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
3/23/20221 hour, 8 minutes, 52 seconds
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Kate Crawford, "The Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence" (Yale UP, 2021)

What happens when artificial intelligence saturates political life and depletes the planet? How is AI shaping our understanding of ourselves and our societies? In The Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence (Yale University Press, 2021), Kate Crawford reveals how this planetary network is fuelling a shift toward undemocratic governance and increased racial, gender, and economic inequality. Drawing on more than a decade of research, award‑winning science, and technology, Crawford reveals how AI is a technology of extraction: from the energy and minerals needed to build and sustain its infrastructure, to the exploited workers behind “automated” services, to the data AI collects from us. Rather than taking a narrow focus on code and algorithms, Crawford offers us a political and a material perspective on what it takes to make artificial intelligence and where it goes wrong. While technical systems present a veneer of objectivity, they are always systems of power. This is an urgent account of what is at stake as technology companies use artificial intelligence to reshape the world. Matthew Jordan is a university instructor, funk musician, and clear writing enthusiast. He studies the history of science and technology, driven by the belief that we must understand the past in order to improve the future. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
3/21/202256 minutes, 32 seconds
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Stephen B. Heard, "The Scientist’s Guide to Writing: How to Write More Easily and Effectively Throughout Your Scientific Career, 2nd ed." (Princeton UP, 2022)

Listen to this interview of Stephen Heard, Professor of Biology at the University of New Brunswick. We talk about his book The Scientist’s Guide to Writing: How to Write More Easily and Effectively Throughout Your Scientific Career, 2nd ed. (Princeton UP, 2022), we talk about writing when it's a verb, we talk about writing when it's a choice, and we talk about writing when it's the science. Stephen Heard : "Especially for early-career scientists there's a risk of their writing entering into a positive feedback loop with the writing as it is in the literature. And really, we do this to them, we professors and instructors. We say, 'Next week, you're going to hand in a lab report. Write out this experiment you did,' and we say, quote, 'and write like the scientific literature,' unquote. Well, that's a horrible thing to tell anyone to do, because unfortunately, much of our literature isn't particularly well written. We love our acronyms, we love really long noun phrases, we love the passive voice, and so on. And so, people who don't make conscious choices and just sort of model what they're writing on what's already out there — I think they sort of get locked into some of those bad decisions, like the five-noun noun phrase. So being aware of what you're doing, thinking about the language you're using, and being willing to use the language to its fullest — that's not an invitation to write your own Finnegans Wake — but it is an invitation to think carefully about the way of constructing your point that will resonate best with the reader." Readers may be interested in Heard's webpage for the book.  Watch Daniel edit your science here. Contact Daniel at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
3/21/20221 hour, 16 minutes, 34 seconds
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Florian Jaton, "The Constitution of Algorithms: Ground-Truthing, Programming, Formulating" (MIT Press, 2021)

The Constitution of Algorithms: Ground-Truthing, Programming, Formulating (MIT Press, 2021) is a laboratory study that investigates how algorithms come into existence. Algorithms--often associated with the terms big data, machine learning, or artificial intelligence--underlie the technologies we use every day, and disputes over the consequences, actual or potential, of new algorithms arise regularly. In this book, Florian Jaton offers a new way to study computerized methods, providing an account of where algorithms come from and how they are constituted, investigating the practical activities by which algorithms are progressively assembled rather than what they may suggest or require once they are assembled. Florian Jaton is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the STS Lab, a research unit of the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Florian studied Philosophy, Mathematics, Literature, and Political Sciences before receiving his PhD in Social Sciences at the University of Lausanne. He also worked at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science at the University of California Irvine and at the Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation at the École des Mines de Paris. His research interests are the sociology of algorithms, the philosophy of mathematics, and the history of computing.  Austin Clyde is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago Department of Computer Science. He researches artificial intelligence and high-performance computing for developing new scientific methods. He is also a visiting research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Science, Technology, and Society program, where my research addresses the intersection of artificial intelligence, human rights, and democracy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
3/16/202250 minutes, 36 seconds
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Sarah Brayne, "Predict and Surveil: Data, Discretion, and the Future of Policing" (Oxford UP, 2020)

Police use of advanced data collection and analysis technologies—or, "big data policing"—continues to receive both positive and negative attention through media, activism, and politics. While some high-profile cases illustrate its potential to hasten investigations or even solve previously unsolved crimes, and others showcase risks to individual liberties and vulnerable communities, we know surprisingly little about how and why police departments actually adopt and deploy these tools. Sarah Brayne's new book, Predict and Surveil: Data, Discretion, and the Future of Policing (Oxford UP, 2021) provides the first in-depth study of these questions. Dr. Brayne recorded observations and interviews over a 5-year period of ethnographic fieldwork and follow-up with the LAPD. In the book, she examines the roles of extra- and intra-departmental factors in the uptake of big data tools, their relationship to the practice and culture of policing, and the impacts and reactions they've precipitated among captains, sworn officers, civilian analysts, and policed communities. A major theme of the book is the role of discretion: While data-driven decision-making tools may promise to replace biased human judgment, in practice they can instead displace human judgment—to earlier and less visible steps in the process, exacerbating the problem they are invoked to solve. Conversely, i was also interested in how Dr. Brayne suggests we shift our perspectives on these tools: She proposes to think of a "big data environment" that shapes our social behavior, and she flips the analogy of data as capital to describe a "cumulative disadvantage" that accrues to those with less access to and control over the data collected on them. Dr. Brayne's study has legal and scholarly as well as policy implications, and it will be of interest to anyone interested in the societal role of data or in that of police. I hope that it becomes part of the foundation for urgently needed future work at their intersection. Suggested companion work: Ballad of the Bullet by Forrest Stuart (listen to Stuart's interview with Sarah E. Patterson here) Sarah Brayne is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining the faculty at UT-Austin, she was a Postdoctoral Researcher at Microsoft Research. Dr. Brayne is the founder and director of the Texas Prison Education Initiative, a group of faculty and students who volunteer to teach college classes in prisons throughout Texas. Cory Brunson is an Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. His research focuses on geometric and topological approaches to the analysis of medical and healthcare data. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
3/4/202254 minutes, 53 seconds
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Tony Veale, "Your Wit Is My Command: Building AIs with a Sense of Humor" (MIT Press, 2021)

For fans of computers and comedy alike, an accessible and entertaining look into how we can use artificial intelligence to make smart machines funny. Most robots and smart devices are not known for their joke-telling abilities. And yet, as computer scientist Tony Veale explains in Your Wit Is My Command (MIT Press, 2021), machines are not inherently unfunny; they are just programmed that way. By examining the mechanisms of humor and jokes—how jokes actually works—Veale shows that computers can be built with a sense of humor, capable not only of producing a joke but also of appreciating one. Along the way, he explores the humor-generating capacities of fictional robots ranging from B-9 in Lost in Space to TARS in Interstellar, maps out possible scenarios for developing witty robots, and investigates such aspects of humor as puns, sarcasm, and offensiveness. In order for robots to be funny, Veale explains, we need to analyze humor computationally. Using artificial intelligence (AI), Veale shows that joke generation is a knowledge-based process—a sense of humor is blend of wit and wisdom. He notes that existing technologies can detect sarcasm in conversation, and explains how some jokes can be pre-scripted while others are generated algorithmically—all while making the technical aspects of AI accessible for the general reader. Of course, there's no single algorithm or technology that we can plug in to make our virtual assistants or GPS voice navigation funny, but Veale provides a computational roadmap for how we might get there. Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
2/16/20221 hour, 5 minutes, 41 seconds
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Aubrey Clayton, "Bernoulli's Fallacy: Statistical Illogic and the Crisis of Modern Science" (Columbia UP, 2021)

There is a logical flaw in the statistical methods used across experimental science. This fault is not a minor academic quibble: it underlies a reproducibility crisis now threatening entire disciplines. In an increasingly statistics-reliant society, this same deeply rooted error shapes decisions in medicine, law, and public policy with profound consequences. The foundation of the problem is a misunderstanding of probability and its role in making inferences from observations. Aubrey Clayton traces the history of how statistics went astray, beginning with the groundbreaking work of the seventeenth-century mathematician Jacob Bernoulli and winding through gambling, astronomy, and genetics. Clayton recounts the feuds among rival schools of statistics, exploring the surprisingly human problems that gave rise to the discipline and the all-too-human shortcomings that derailed it. He highlights how influential nineteenth- and twentieth-century figures developed a statistical methodology they claimed was purely objective in order to silence critics of their political agendas, including eugenics. Clayton provides a clear account of the mathematics and logic of probability, conveying complex concepts accessibly for readers interested in the statistical methods that frame our understanding of the world. He contends that we need to take a Bayesian approach--that is, to incorporate prior knowledge when reasoning with incomplete information--in order to resolve the crisis. Ranging across math, philosophy, and culture, Bernoulli's Fallacy: Statistical Illogic and the Crisis of Modern Science (Columbia UP, 2021) explains why something has gone wrong with how we use data--and how to fix it. Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
2/10/20221 hour, 9 minutes, 22 seconds
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Brian Cafarella, "Breaking Barriers: Student Success in Community College Mathematics" (A K Peters, 2021)

Students' success in mathematics at community colleges has been the subject of thorough quantitative research, which has reported poor overall results and described a range of explanations for them. Even as policies, course formats, and the composition of the student population have changed, success rates have remained dishearteningly low. The challenges confronted by community college students in developmental and higher-level math classes are historical, financial, social, and personal. Brian Cafarella's new book, which examines these challenges through the perspectives of the students themselves, is a welcome contribution to the topic. Breaking Barriers: Student Success in Community College Mathematics (CRC Press, 2021) is a qualitative study of the barriers faced, and the paths blazed through them, by more than 20 community college students who required developmental math at the starts of their programs and successfully completed college-level courses. From his interviews and exchanges with these students, Dr. Cafarella synthesizes several key themes, from the demoralizing impact of high school experiences to the urgent effects of family and work pressures, and indeed students' own attitudes, behaviors, and lifestyles. I was especially struck by the students' diverse responses to the diverse class modalities their colleges offered, and by the extent of personal support these institutions mustered to see the students through bleak periods. The book concludes with several core lessons distilled from the study, most of which came through in some form during our discussion but provide an excellent point of reference for decision-makers—including present and prospective students. I hope that teachers, administrators, and especially policymakers will also be able to put these lessons to good use, and that they will help drive a continuing effort to understand and chart pathways through the barriers students face. Suggested companion works: journal articles on community college mathematics by Zachary Beamer Julie Phelps Peter Barr Paul Nolting Brian Cafarella is a mathematics professor at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. He has taught a variety of courses ranging from developmental math through pre-calculus, and he has published articles in several peer-reviewed journals on implementing best practices in developmental math and various math pathways for community college students. Brian is a past recipient of the Roueche Award for teaching excellence, the Ohio Magazine Award for excellence in education, and the Article of the Year Award from the Journal of Developmental Education. Cory Brunson is an Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. His research focuses on geometric and topological approaches to the analysis of medical and healthcare data. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
2/1/20221 hour, 8 minutes, 14 seconds
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Helga Nowotny, "In AI We Trust: Power, Illusion and Control of Predictive Algorithms" (Polity, 2021)

Today I talked to Helga Nowotny about her new book In AI We Trust: Power, Illusion and Control of Predictive Algorithms (Polity, 2021). One of the most persistent concerns about the future is whether it will be dominated by the predictive algorithms of AI - and, if so, what this will mean for our behaviour, for our institutions and for what it means to be human. AI changes our experience of time and the future and challenges our identities, yet we are blinded by its efficiency and fail to understand how it affects us. At the heart of our trust in AI lies a paradox: we leverage AI to increase our control over the future and uncertainty, while at the same time the performativity of AI, the power it has to make us act in the ways it predicts, reduces our agency over the future. This happens when we forget that that we humans have created the digital technologies to which we attribute agency. These developments also challenge the narrative of progress, which played such a central role in modernity and is based on the hubris of total control. We are now moving into an era where this control is limited as AI monitors our actions, posing the threat of surveillance, but also offering the opportunity to reappropriate control and transform it into care. As we try to adjust to a world in which algorithms, robots and avatars play an ever-increasing role, we need to understand better the limitations of AI and how their predictions affect our agency, while at the same time having the courage to embrace the uncertainty of the future. Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. To discuss and propose the book for an interview you can reach her at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
1/20/202248 minutes, 16 seconds
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Thomas Huckle and Tobias Neckel, "Bits and Bugs: A Scientific and Historical Review of Software Failures in Computational Science" (SIAM, 2019)

A true understanding of the pervasive role of software in the world demands an awareness of the volume and variety of real-world software failures and their consequences. No more thorough survey of these events may be available than Thomas Huckle and Tobias Neckel's Bits and Bugs: A Scientific and Historical Review of Software Failures in Computational Science (SIAM, 2019). Their book organizing an extensive collection of episodes into eight chapters that expand on an array of flavors of failures, increasing in intricacy from precision and rounding errors to the software–hardware interface and problems that emerge from complexity. As I see it, this book serves three audiences: Instructors of computer engineering or numerical methods will find an educational text uniquely suited to a focus on software failures; software engineers will find an equally unique reference text; and students of the practice or the history of computational science will find a fully blazed trail through these complicated stories. Dr. Huckle joined me to discuss his and his coauthor's motivations for assembling the book, a sampler of the chapter headliners, and some of his thoughts on new and evolving computational tools with their own attendant opportunities for failure. Technical readers will appreciate the mathematical excursions that rigorously introduce topics essential to understanding each chapter's headlining episodes, the exercises and MATLAB code provided at the book's website, and links to sources at Dr. Huckle's website. I found value in the recurring lesson that real-world failures arise from the coincidence of multiple, often multitudinous errors, as well as in the authors' consistent emphasis on the real human toll that the study of these errors is driven to prevent. That said, all readers may appreciate the fanciful taxonomy given in the introduction and the amusing (though sometimes apocryphal) idiosyncratic failures surveyed in the appendix. Suggested companion works: Peter G. Neumann, Illustrative Risks to the Public in the Use of Computer Systems and Related Technology Nancy G. Leveson, Safeware: System Safety and Computers Glenford J. Myers, Software Reliability: Principles and Practices Lauren Ruth Wiener, Digital Woes: Why We Should Not Depend On Software Ivars Peterson, Fatal Defect: Chasing Killer Computer Bugs  Thomas Huckle completed a degree program in mathematics and physics education and in pure mathematics, received a doctorate in 1985, and acquired his postdoctoral teaching qualification (habiliation) in 1991 at the University of Würzburg. A German research Foundation (DFG) grant enabled him to spend time performing research at Stanford University (1993–1994). In 1995 Professor Huckle joined TUM as professor of scientific computing. He has also been a member of the Mathematics Faculty since 1997. His primary research area is numerical linear algebra and its application in fields such as informatics and physics. His work focuses on solving linear problems on parallel computers, image processing and reconstruction, partial differential equations, and structured matrices. Tobias Neckel has studied applied mathematics at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and received a doctorate in Computer Science at TUM in 2009. He is currently senior researcher in scientific computing at TUM and has conducted research at the École Polytechnique, France (2003), the Tokyo Institute of Technology (2008), and the Australian National University (2017). His research interests include the numerical solution of differential equations, hierarchic and adaptive methods, uncertainty quantification, and various aspects of high-performance computing. Cory Brunson is an Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. His research focuses on geometric and topological approaches to the analysis of medical and healthcare data. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
1/17/20221 hour, 4 minutes, 6 seconds
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David Sulzer, "Music, Math, and Mind: The Physics and Neuroscience of Music" (Columbia UP, 2021)

Why does a clarinet play at lower pitches than a flute? What does it mean for sounds to be in or out of tune? How are emotions carried by music? Do other animals perceive sound like we do? How might a musician use math to come up with new ideas? This book offers a lively exploration of the mathematics, physics, and neuroscience that underlie music in a way that readers without scientific background can follow. David Sulzer, also known in the musical world as Dave Soldier, explains why the perception of music encompasses the physics of sound, the functions of the ear and deep-brain auditory pathways, and the physiology of emotion. He delves into topics such as the math by which musical scales, rhythms, tuning, and harmonies are derived, from the days of Pythagoras to technological manipulation of sound waves. Sulzer ranges from styles from around the world to canonical composers to hip-hop, the history of experimental music, and animal sound by songbirds, cetaceans, bats, and insects. He makes accessible a vast range of material, helping readers discover the universal principles behind the music they find meaningful. Written for musicians and music lovers with any level of science and math proficiency, including none, Music, Math, and Mind: The Physics and Neuroscience of Music (Columbia UP, 2021) demystifies how music works while testifying to its beauty and wonder. Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. To discuss and propose the book for an interview you can reach her at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
12/30/20211 hour, 16 minutes, 19 seconds
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James Wynn and G. Mitchell Reyes, "Arguing with Numbers: The Intersections of Rhetoric and Mathematics" (Pennsylvania State UP, 2021)

One pervasive stereotype about mathematics is that it is objective, unbiased, or otherwise exempt from the influence of human passions. James Wynn and G. Mitchell Reyes's edited collection will be a revelation even to mathematics professionals who don't take this strict view. The essays in Arguing with Numbers: The Intersections of Rhetoric and Mathematics (The Pennsylvania State UP, 2021) explore the interplays between rhetoric and mathematics that have shaped scholarly and popular culture through to the present day. Opening the collection are both an historical sketch of scholarship at the intersection of these disciplines, from their division in ancient Greece to their hesitant reunion since the mid-twentieth century, and also a taxonomy of modern research into three distinct approaches, which we review in our discussion. The remaining essays use these approaches to probe the impact of mathematical rhetoric on the sciences (including Hantaro Nakaoka's analogical "Saturnian" model of atomic spectra), on cultural norms and institutions (including the influence of David X. Li's Gaussian copula on the behavior of financial markets), and on relations between mathematics professionals and the lay public. This last part contains a chapter on the legacy of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics that highlights the importance to mathematics professionals of understanding the rhetorical dimensions of our discipline. Bookending our discussion, Drs. Wynn and Reyes related the story of their edited collection, which makes the point that a cross-disciplinary exchange is needed to help both disciplines better understand their connections to each other and more responsibly manage those connections. Their suggestions will resonate with mathematicians interested in challenging narratives of objectivity, in diversifying our ranks, and in developing responsible rules and principles for the use of social and personal data. The analytical tools demonstrated in this book abet this effort. Suggested companion works: Trust in Numbers, Theodore Porter Meeting the Universe Halfway, Karen Barad James Wynn is Associate Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of Citizen Science in the Digital Age: Rhetoric, Science, and Public Engagement and Evolution by the Numbers: The Origins of Mathematical Argument in Biology. G. Mitchell Reyes is Professor of Rhetoric and Media Studies at Lewis and Clark College. He is author of Stranger Relations: Mathematics, Rhetoric, and the Translative Force of Mathematical Discourse (in press with Penn State University Press) and coeditor of Global Memoryscapes: Contesting Remembrance in a Transnational Age. Cory Brunson is an Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. His research focuses on geometric and topological approaches to the analysis of medical and healthcare data. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
12/7/20211 hour, 7 minutes, 30 seconds
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Ian Stewart, “The Joy of Mathematics” (Open Agenda, 2021)

The Joy of Mathematics is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Ian Stewart, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick and bestselling science and science fiction writer. For Ian Stewart, mathematics is far more than dreary arithmetic, while mathematical thinking is one of the most important—and overlooked—aspects of contemporary society. This wide-ranging conversation explores what mathematics is and why it’s worth doing, symmetry, networks and patterns, the relationship between logic and proof, the role of beauty in mathematical thinking, the future of mathematics, linking mathematical oscillations to animal gaits, how to deal with the peculiarities of the mathematical community, and much more. Howard Burton is the founder of the Ideas Roadshow, Ideas on Film and host of the Ideas Roadshow Podcast. He can be reached at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
11/12/20211 hour, 25 minutes, 40 seconds
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Vicky Neale, "Why Study Mathematics?" (London Publishing Partnership, 2020)

Students and their families face a consequential choice in whether to pursue a degree, and in what area. For those considering mathematics programs, the choice may be particularly fraught: A gulf separates the exploratory and experimental mathematics done by professionals from the computational training of most secondary schools, and this can obscure the meanings of program options. Meanwhile, cultural anxieties and stereotypes can dissuade students who would flourish in mathematical careers. This despite mathematical professionals being among the most satisfied and well-compensated in their careers. In Why Study Mathematics? (2020), Vicky Neale provides a compact guide to this juncture, which i expect students and their families and teachers will find hugely valuable. As part of the London Publishing Partnership's "Why Study" series, her book in Part I explores in detail the substance and varieties of math degrees, how students can shape them to their needs and interests, and what those who complete them go on to do after. For Part II, Neale gives the reader a deeper view into a selection of subfields and the work their practitioners do, including the technologically vital study of data compression and the (for now) more humanistic study of abstract networks known as Ramsey theory. Dr. Neale has exceptional experience and skill as a mentor that comes through as she addresses questions that, in my experience, often aren't: Are mathematics degrees mostly for mathematically adept students? Once in a program, whom should i get to know? Where are all the job postings for "mathematician"? It was a treat to hear her expound further on the book, and i would suggest that anyone at the beginning of their professional life, with interest, aptitude, or just curiosity about mathematics, seek out this resource (or recommend it to their mentors and guidance offices!) as they weigh their options. Suggested companion works: Maths Careers (UK) Numberphile YouTube channel Plus magazine Chalkdust magazine Vicky Neale is the Whitehead Lecturer at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, and a Supernumerary Fellow at Balliol College. She teaches pure mathematics to undergraduates, and combines this with work on public engagement with mathematics: she gives public lectures, leads workshops with school students, and has appeared on numerous BBC radio and television programmes. One of her current interests is in using knitting and crochet to explore mathematical ideas. She is the author of Closing the Gap: The Quest to Understand Prime Numbers (Oxford University Press, 2017)—listen to her interview with Jim Stein about that book here. Cory Brunson is an Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. His research focuses on geometric and topological approaches to the analysis of medical and healthcare data. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
11/5/202154 minutes, 43 seconds
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Brian Clegg, "Ten Patterns That Explain the Universe" (MIT Press, 2021)

Our universe might appear chaotic, but deep down it's simply a myriad of rules working independently to create patterns of action, force, and consequence. In Ten Patterns That Explain the Universe (MIT Press, 2021), Brian Clegg explores the phenomena that make up the very fabric of our world by examining ten essential sequenced systems. From diagrams that show the deep relationships between space and time to the quantum behaviors that rule the way that matter and light interact, Clegg shows how these patterns provide a unique view of the physical world and its fundamental workings. Guiding readers on a tour of our world and the universe beyond, Clegg describes the cosmic microwave background, sometimes called the "echo of the big bang," and how it offers clues to the universe's beginnings; the diagrams that illustrate Einstein's revelation of the intertwined nature of space and time; the particle trail patterns revealed by the Large Hadron Collider and other accelerators; and the simple-looking patterns that predict quantum behavior (and decorated Richard Feynman's van). Clegg explains how the periodic table reflects the underlying pattern of the configuration of atoms, discusses the power of the number line, demonstrates the explanatory uses of tree diagrams, and more. Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. To discuss and propose the book for an interview you can reach her at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
9/28/202151 minutes, 8 seconds
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Chris Bleakley, "Poems That Solve Puzzles: The History and Science of Algorithms" (Oxford UP, 2020)

As algorithms become ever more significant to and embedded in our everyday lives, ever more accessible introductions to them are needed. While several excellent technical and critical treatments have emerged in recent years, i had not come across a book for the general public that would provide a deep sense for the intuitions and motivations behind their development. Chris Bleakley's new book offers this and more: conceptual rigor woven into historical vignettes in a style that i believe general readers will find truly enjoyable to read. Poems that Solve Puzzles: The History and Science of Algorithms (Oxford UP, 2020) is itself a quite poetic book, in which echoes of ideas and variations on themes can be heard throughout. Its stories encompass the early hypothetical and mechanical computers, the charactered rise of weather forecasting, the origins (and lulls) of machine learning, and the sensational competitions between master game players and artificial intelligence. The book traverses a long historical arc, but each episode is a quick read, remarkable in their ability to convey depth and rigor in crisp, plain language. It was a delight to talk with Chris about these and other aspects of his book. Suggested companion works: --Simon Singh, The Code Book --George Dyson, Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe --Greg Kohs (director), "AlphaGo" Chris Bleakley is Head of the School of Computer Science at University College Dublin. He graduated with a BSc (Hons) degree in Computer Science from Queen's University, Belfast, and a PhD degree in Electronic Engineering from Dublin City University. After college, he was employed as a software consultant by Accenture and, later, as a senior telecommunications researcher at Broadcom Eireann Research. Cory Brunson is an Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. His research focuses on geometric and topological approaches to the analysis of medical and healthcare data. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
9/27/20211 hour, 24 minutes, 13 seconds
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Alfred S. Posamentier, "Math Tricks: The Surprising Wonders of Shapes and Numbers" (Prometheus Books, 2021)

Alfred S. Posamentier's Math Tricks: The Surprising Wonders of Shapes and Numbers (Prometheus Books, 2021) has a lovely assortment of puzzles from all areas of mathematics. Some will be familiar to many readers, but there are plenty of ones I’d never seen before – and I’ve seen lots of them. Some are at just the right level to intrigue students who may be put off by the dry way a lot of math courses are taught – and this alone is enough to make any parent consider having the book available when their child says that they hate math. Math is valuable not just because we can use it to balance our checking account or send rockets to the moon, but because it helps us think – and this book presents a lot of math in a very appealing fashion. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
8/30/202154 minutes, 2 seconds
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Rachel Steinig and Rodi Steinig, "Math Renaissance: Growing Math Circles, Changing Classrooms, and Creating Sustainable Math Education" (Natural Math, 2018)

Math Renaissance: Growing Math Circles, Changing Classrooms, and Creating Sustainable Math Education (Natural Math, 2018) couples two educational memoirs: Student Rachel Steinig brings her experience from diverse schooling models, surveys of teachers and fellow students, and selections of peer-reviewed scholarship to an examination of math instruction in the United States. Her chapters seek to locate root causes, transcend conventional advice, and inspire readers to imagine radical alternatives. Teacher Rodi Steinig invites readers into the role of leading math circles with detailed play-by-plays from her own experience. These chapters evince the importance (and interplay) in this role of background knowledge, preparation, compassion, and improvisation—and, perhaps most saliently for beginning teachers, of resisting the urge to rescue. Taken together, the book critiques the existing systems that provide children's math education and drills down on an alternative model whose popularity continues to grow. Among my favorite parts of the book were Rodi's self-reflective thought bubbles on her performance facilitating math circles and Rachel's chapter on math instruction from a human rights perspective. The book is intended for teachers and parents of school-age children, though i think middle and high school students and even casual readers would find value in this forthright, thorough, and readable work. It was an absolute delight to discuss the book with both its authors! Suggested Companion Works: Rochelle Gutiérrez, Rehumanizing Mathematics: A Vision for the Future Francis Su, Mathematics for Human Flourishing Donald Finkel, Teaching with Your Mouth Shut Robert Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan, Out of the Labyrinth: Setting Mathematics Free Dave Auckly, Bob Klein, Amanda Serenevy, Tatiana Shubin, Inspiring Mathematics: Lessons from the Navajo Nation Math Circles Rodi Steinig is an educator, author, and teacher trainer who has educated K-12 students in an inquiry-based approach for over twenty years. She founded the Math Renaissance Math Circle in 2011 hoping to awaken children’s inner mathematicians, to shepherd the unfolding of their abstract reasoning, and to disabuse them of the notion that math is the study of memorizing a bunch of facts and algorithms. Rachel recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Political Science. She is currently a Border Rights Project Fellow at the nonprofit Al Otro Lado, providing legal services to asylum-seekers at the border in Tijuana. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
8/26/20211 hour, 1 minute, 53 seconds
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Satyan Devadoss and Matt Harvey, "Mage Merlin's Unsolved Mathematical Mysteries" (MIT Press, 2020)

Sixteen of today's greatest unsolved mathematical puzzles in a story-driven, illustrated volume that invites readers to peek over the edge of the unknown. Most people think of mathematics as a set of useful tools designed to answer analytical questions, beginning with simple arithmetic and ending with advanced calculus. But, as Mage Merlin's Unsolved Mathematical Mysteries (MIT Press, 2020) shows, mathematics is filled with intriguing mysteries that take us to the edge of the unknown. This richly illustrated, story-driven volume presents sixteen of today's greatest unsolved mathematical puzzles, all understandable by anyone with elementary math skills. These intriguing mysteries are presented to readers as puzzles that have time-traveled from Camelot, preserved in the notebook of Merlin, the wise magician in King Arthur's court. Our guide is Mage Maryam (named in honor of the brilliant young mathematician, the late Maryam Mirzakhani), a distant descendant of Merlin. Maryam introduces the mysteries—each of which is presented across two beautifully illustrated pages—and provides mathematical and historical context afterward. We find Merlin confronting mathematical puzzles involving tinker toys (a present for Camelot's princesses from the sorceress Morgana), cake-slicing at a festival, Lancelot's labyrinth, a vault for the Holy Grail, and more. Each mystery is a sword awaiting removal from its stone, capturing the beauty and power of mathematics. Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. To discuss and propose the book for an interview you can reach her at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
8/10/20211 hour, 8 minutes, 54 seconds
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Artur Ekert, “Cryptoreality” (Open Agenda, 2021)

Cryptoreality is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Artur Ekert, Professor of Quantum Physics at the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford and Director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies and Lee Kong Chian Centennial Professor at the National University of Singapore. Artur Ekert is one of the pioneers of quantum cryptography. This wide-ranging conversation provides detailed insights into his research and covers many fascinating topics such as mathematical and physical intuition, a detailed history of cryptography from antiquity to the present day and how it works in practice, the development of quantum information science, the nature of reality, and more. Howard Burton is the founder of the Ideas Roadshow, Ideas on Film and host of the Ideas Roadshow Podcast. He can be reached at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
8/9/20212 hours, 56 minutes, 12 seconds
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Freeman Dyson, “Pushing the Boundaries” (Open Agenda, 2021)

Pushing the Boundaries is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and former mathematical physicist and writer Freeman Dyson, who was one of the most celebrated polymaths of our age. Freeman Dyson had his academic home for more than 60 years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He has reshaped thinking in fields from math to astrophysics to medicine, while pondering nuclear-propelled spaceships designed to transport human colonists to distant planets. Howard Burton is the founder of the Ideas Roadshow, Ideas on Film and host of the Ideas Roadshow Podcast. He can be reached at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
8/6/20211 hour, 45 minutes, 43 seconds
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James Ladyman and K. Wiesner, "What Is a Complex System?" (Yale UP, 2020)

While i find it pretty easy to recognize when i'm reading articles in complexity science, i've never been satisfied by definitions of complexity and related concepts. I'm not alone! Researchers' own attempts to define complex systems incorporate a mix of folk wisdom and fraught assumptions anchored to a menagerie of contested examples. The field was ripe for a 2013 article proposing a unified account of complexity, and it's no less ripe today for this book-length expansion. In What Is a Complex System? (Yale UP, 2020), philosopher of science James Ladyman and physicist and mathematician Karoline Wiesner systematically interrogate popular definitions. They break the most commonly cited features into three bins: truisms on which there is universal agreement, the conditions necessary for complexity to arise, and various emergent products of complexity. A key insight of their account, for me, was to understand emergence as a relation between features rather than one feature among many. The book is compact, accessible, and at times profound. Indeed, James and Karoline bring the lessons of their account to some of the most consequential complex systems of our time, including Earth's climate and biosphere as well as our global social media ecosystem. I was honored to host them in conversation on this episode, and i encourage listeners to pick up the book itself for deeper dives into the topics we discussed. James Ladyman is professor of philosophy at the University of Bristol and works mainly in the philosophy of science. Karoline Wiesner is professor of physics at the University of Potsdam and uses information theory to understand complex systems. Cory Brunson is a Research Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. His research focuses on geometric and topological approaches to the analysis of medical and healthcare data. He welcomes book suggestions, listener feedback, and transparent supply chains. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
7/30/20211 hour, 14 minutes, 26 seconds
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James Robert Brown, “Plato’s Heaven: A User’s Guide” (Open Agenda, 2021)

Plato’s Heaven: A User’s Guide is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and James Robert Brown, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. This wide-ranging conversation addresses a central theme in current philosophy: Platonism vs. Naturalism and provides accounts of both approaches to mathematics. The Platonist-Naturalist debate over mathematics is explored in a comprehensive fashion and also sheds light on non-mathematical aspects of a dispute that is central to contemporary philosophy. Thought experiments stand as a fascinating challenge to the necessity of data in the empirical sciences. Are these experiments, conducted uniquely in our imagination, simply rhetorical devices or communication tools or are they an essential part of scientific practice? This book also surveys the current state of this debate and explores new avenues of research into the epistemology of thought experiments. Howard Burton is the founder of the Ideas Roadshow, Ideas on Film and host of the Ideas Roadshow Podcast. He can be reached at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
7/22/20211 hour, 29 minutes, 25 seconds
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Ellen Peters, "Innumeracy in the Wild: Misunderstanding and Misusing Numbers" (Oxford UP, 2020)

To many mathematicians and math enthusiasts, the word "innumeracy" brings to mind popular writing like that of John Allen Paulos. But inequities in our quantitative reasoning skills have received considerable interest and attention from researchers lately, including in psychology, development, education, and public health. Innumeracy in the Wild: Misunderstanding and Misusing Numbers (Oxford University Press, 2020) is a unified treatment of these broad-ranging studies, from the ways more and less numerate people differ in our perceptions of risk and our number-based decisions to the roots of our numeric faculties and how we can make the best of them. Dr. Ellen Peters has made significant contributions to the subject and brings her expertise and an exceptional clarity to its presentation. Precious little of the research surveyed in her book could fit into this interview! We discussed the three components of numeric ability—objective numeracy, subjective numeracy, and the innate number sense—and how they vary within and across populations. We talked through some key lessons from this literature, such as the importance of calibrating our self-efficacy to our real ability and an awareness of how our cultural allegiances can drive even our mathematical reasoning. And we identified some of the essential personal habits and policy levers (early childhood education!!) available to us in our efforts to improve our individual numeracy and our collective numeric decision-making. For a firm grounding in the state of knowledge and urgent open questions, there may be no better resource for many years to come. Suggested companion works: Contributions from the labs of Isaac Lipkus, Angela Fagerlin, John Opfer, Edward Cokely, Rocio Garcia-Retamero, Jakub Traczyk, Agata Sobków, Wändi Bruine de Bruin, Keith Stanovich, and Valerie Reyna. Ellen Peters, Ph.D., is the Philip H. Knight Chair, and Director of the Center for Science Communication Research, in the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication. As a decision psychologist, she studies the basic building blocks of human judgment and decision making and their links with effective communication techniques and has published more than 150 peer-reviewed papers on these topics. She is former President of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Association for Psychological Science, the American Psychological Association, and the Society for Experimental Social Psychology. She also works with federal agencies to advance decision and communication sciences in health and health policy, including having been Chair of FDA’s Risk Communication Advisory Committee and member of the NAS’s Science of Science Communication committee. She has been awarded the Jane Beattie Scientific Recognition Award and an NIH Group Merit Award. Finally, she has received extensive funding from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. Cory Brunson is a Research Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. His research focuses on geometric and topological approaches to the analysis of medical and healthcare data. He welcomes book suggestions, listener feedback, and transparent supply chains. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
5/31/20211 hour, 8 minutes, 35 seconds
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Dave Auckly, et al., "Inspiring Mathematics: Lessons from the Navajo Nation Math Circles" (AMS, 2019)

Math circles defy simple narratives. The model was introduced a century ago, and is taking off in the present day thanks in part to its congruence with cutting-edge research in mathematics education. It is a modern approach to teaching—or facilitation—that resonates and finds mutual reinforcement with traditional practices and cultural preservation efforts. A wide range of math circle resources have become available for interested instructors, including the MSRI Math Circles Library, now in its 14th year of publication by the AMS. I was excited to talk with three editors and contributors to a recent volume in the series, Inspiring Mathematics: Lessons from the Navajo Nation Math Circles (American Mathematical, 2019). Drs. Dave Auckly, Amanda Serenevy, and Henry Fowler have been instrumental to the Navajo Nation Math Circles Project, along with co-editors Tatiana Shubin and Bob Klein and a broader contact and support network. Their book showcases scripts developed and facilitated in Navajo Nation, including an introduction to modular arithmetic through bean bag tossing, prefix sorting in the guise of pancake flipping, and a tactile use of limiting behavior to folding a necktie. We discussed the origin and expansion of math circles, their potential to indigenous mathematics educators and students, and the content of and stories behind a selection of the scripts. Dr. Fowler's foreword and the editors' introduction situate the math circles movement and the Navajo Nation Math Circles Project in history, geography, and culture. Each script begins with a (minimal!) list of the necessary materials and a student handout that invites explorations with them. A short survey of connections to deeper mathematics precedes each handout, and each is followed by an extensive teacher's guide with (illustrative) solutions and presentation suggestions. The scripts vary in complexity and are suitable for student- and teacher-focused math circles. I hope the text becomes widely adopted for science-based and culturally conscious mathematics education and helps introduce others like myself to the greater math circles project. Suggested companion works: -James Tanton -The Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival -Gordon Hamilton and Lora Saarnio, MathPickle -Robert Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan, Out of the Labyrinth: Setting Mathematics Free -Rachel and Rodi Steinig, Math Renaissance Dave Auckly is a research mathematician at Kansas State University and Co-founder and Director of the Navajo Nation Math Circles Project. Amanda Serenevy is Co-founder and Director of the Riverbend Community Math Center. Henry Fowler is Associate Professor of Mathematics at Navajo Technical University and Co-director of the Navajo Nation Math Circles Project. Cory Brunson is a Research Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
4/27/20211 hour, 13 minutes, 21 seconds
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Jonas Peters and Nicolai Meinshausen, "The Raven's Hat: Fallen Pictures, Rising Sequences, and Other Mathematical Games" (MIT Press, 2021)

Games have been of interest to mathematicians almost since mathematics became a subject. In fact, entire branches of mathematics have arisen simply to analyze certain games. The Raven's Hat: Fallen Pictures, Rising Sequences, and Other Mathematical Games (MIT Press, 2021) does something very different, and something that I think listeners will find intriguing – it uses games in order to explain mathematical concepts. The Raven's Hat presents a series of engaging games that seem unsolvable--but can be solved when they are translated into mathematical terms. How can players find their ID cards when the cards are distributed randomly among twenty boxes? By applying the theory of permutations. How can a player guess the color of her own hat when she can only see other players' hats? Hamming codes, which are used in communication technologies. Like magic, mathematics solves the apparently unsolvable. The games allow readers, including university students or anyone with high school-level math, to experience the joy of mathematical discovery. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
4/2/202157 minutes, 22 seconds
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Eugenia Cheng, "x + y: A Mathematician's Manifesto for Rethinking Gender" (Basic Book, 2020)

From its more mainstream, business-focused and business-friendly “Lean In” variants, to more radical, critical and intersectional understandings of feminism, the past decade has seen a flourishing of discussion from those proposing and critiquing different schools of thought for the way we think about gender in society. Dr. Eugenia Cheng’s addition to this conversation is x+y: A Mathematician's Manifesto for Rethinking Gender (Basic Books, 2020). She applies insights gained from her mathematical background to propose a new way to talk about gender and to propose an alternative: the terms “ingressive” and “congressive” behavior. In this interview, Dr. Cheng and I talk about what we gain from bringing a mathematical understanding to questions of social relations and structures. We talk about how she rethinks “gender”, and the new terms she proposes in her book. We end with a short discussion of whether these insights are applicable to conversations about other demographic and social identifiers. Dr. Eugenia Cheng is a mathematician and concert pianist. She is Scientist In Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and holds a PhD in pure mathematics from the University of Cambridge. Alongside her research in Category Theory and undergraduate teaching her aim is to rid the world of “math-phobia”. She was an early pioneer of math on YouTube and her videos have been viewed over 15 million times to date. Her other books are How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics (Basic Books: 2016), which was featured on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Beyond Infinity: An Expedition to the Outer Limits of Mathematics (Basic Books: 2017) which was shortlisted for the Royal Society Science Book Prize in 2017 and The Art of Logic in an Illogical World (Basic Books: 2018) You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of x+y. Follow on Facebook or on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia. Nicholas Gordon is a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. In his day job, he’s a researcher and writer for a think tank in economic and sustainable development. He is also a print and broadcast commentator on local and regional politics. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
4/1/202142 minutes, 52 seconds
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Milo Beckman, "Math Without Numbers" (Dutton, 2020)

One of the questions I am often asked is exactly what do mathematicians do. The short answer is that they look at different mathematical structures, try to deduce their properties, and think about how they might apply to the real world. Math Without Numbers (Dutton, 2020) does a wonderful job of explaining what mathematical structures are, and does so in a fashion that even readers who are uncomfortable with the process of doing mathematics can appreciate and enjoy. There are courses in music and art appreciation, and if there ever are courses in math appreciation, this book would certainly be at or near the top of the reading list. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
2/22/202155 minutes, 44 seconds
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J. Rosenhouse, "Games for Your Mind: The History and Future of Logic Puzzles" (Princeton UP, 2020)

Jason Rosenhouse's Games for Your Mind: The History and Future of Logic Puzzles (Princeton UP, 2020) is about a panoply of logic puzzles. You’ll find Mastermind and sudoku discussed early on, and then you’ll be hit with an incredible array of some of the most intriguing logic puzzles that have ever been devised. Some will be familiar to you, but some will almost certainly be brain-teasers you have never heard of. It’s absolutely amazing what a truly deep field grew from recreational pastimes – and this book is an absolute treasure trove of stuff you can’t help thinking about. If you like logic, you’re certain to be sucked in – but you’ll enjoy the ride. Logic puzzles were first introduced to the public by Lewis Carroll in the late nineteenth century and have been popular ever since. Games like Sudoku and Mastermind are fun and engrossing recreational activities, but they also share deep foundations in mathematical logic and are worthy of serious intellectual inquiry. Games for Your Mind explores the history and future of logic puzzles while enabling you to test your skill against a variety of puzzles yourself. In this informative and entertaining book, Jason Rosenhouse begins by introducing readers to logic and logic puzzles and goes on to reveal the rich history of these puzzles. He shows how Carroll's puzzles presented Aristotelian logic as a game for children, yet also informed his scholarly work on logic. He reveals how another pioneer of logic puzzles, Raymond Smullyan, drew on classic puzzles about liars and truthtellers to illustrate Kurt Gödel's theorems and illuminate profound questions in mathematical logic. Rosenhouse then presents a new vision for the future of logic puzzles based on nonclassical logic, which is used today in computer science and automated reasoning to manipulate large and sometimes contradictory sets of data. Featuring a wealth of sample puzzles ranging from simple to extremely challenging, this lively and engaging book brings together many of the most ingenious puzzles ever devised, including the Hardest Logic Puzzle Ever, metapuzzles, paradoxes, and the logic puzzles in detective stories. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
1/25/202156 minutes, 14 seconds
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Snezana Lawrence, "A New Year's Present from a Mathematician" (CRC Press, 2019)

It would be simple enough to say that mathematics is being done, and that those who do it are mathematicians. Yet, the history and culture of the mathematical community immediately complicate these statements. In her book A New Year's Present from a Mathematician (CRC Press, 2020), Snezana Lawrence guides a tour of European mathematical history that broadens conventional ideas of who mathematicians are and what we do. Framed as journey across the desert out from Alexandria, the book recounts a vignette from European mathematical history anchored to each month of the year, as drops of creativity and wisdom to sustain the trek. It is not unusual for books on the history of mathematics to tell very human stories about their often famous subjects. What is remarkable about Lawrence's collection is the breadth of these stories: Her subjects were idealists, pragmatists, mystics, skeptics, radicals, ascetics, and collectives. (Contrast, for example, the self-aware spite of Isaac Newton with the defiant good humor of Jean-Baptiste d'Alembert.) They contributed a mix each of original study, stewardship, and education. (Witness the precocious and persistent advocacy of Maria Agnesi and the devoted reciprocity of Johannes Kepler.) And they may or may not have been considered in their time, or even considered themselves, mathematicians. This book also showcases the diversity of mechanisms through which mathematics is transmitted and expanded. The projects undertaken by Lawrence's subjects are inspired by surviving ancient texts, popular treatments, and personal correspondence, and they yielded instructional texts, organizational schema, reference works, and popular fiction still in circulation today. The book drove home for me that the history of mathematics is ultimately a history of dialogue, and one that any person has the potential to contribute to—and thereby to be a mathematician. Suggested companion work: "Interstellar" (dir. Christopher Nolan) Snezana Lawrence is a mathematical historian, with a particular interest in the links between mathematics, architecture, and the belief systems related to mathematics. Her work on the creativity, identity, and engagement in the learning of mathematics has taken her to be involved in national and international initiatives to promote the use of the history of mathematics in mathematics education. She maintains the website Maths Is Good For You! and tweets @snezanalawrence. Cory Brunson is a Research Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
1/8/202155 minutes, 55 seconds
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James D. Stein, "The Fate of Schrodinger's Cat: Using Math and Computers to Explore the Counterintuitive" (World Scientific, 2020)

Math has a complicated relationship with the counterintuitive: Rigorous logic, calculation, and simulation can both help us wrap our minds around phenomena that defy our intuition, and thrust upon us whole new worlds of counterintuitive results. In his new book, Jim Stein introduces readers to several unexpected and sometimes astonishing examples, while demanding a minimal mathematical background. The Fate of Schrodinger's Cat: Using Math and Computers to Explore the Counterintuitive (World Scientific, 2020) takes the reader along a journey in three segments. The first, through only by-hand calculations, builds up to a variation on Schrödinger's notorious thought experiment in which an observer can use an unrelated random process to predict the outcome of a 50/50 trial more than half the time. The kernel of this setup is Blackwell's Bet, a simple yet extraordinary illustration of what Stein calls "probabilistic entanglement". The second section uses computer simulation to get a handle on several paradoxical episodes in the world of sports: For my favorite example, how is it that an NFL season can at the same moment be exceptional both for the number of unbeaten teams and for the number of underperforming ones? Section III brings both computational approaches together to investigate perhaps the most argued-over quantitative question since Monty Hall: Is there a "hot hand"? What makes this book of popular mathematics exceptional is its openness: Stein's explorations can be followed with only very basic (or, ahem, BASIC) knowledge of arithmetic, probability, algebra, and programming. Moreover, they can be furthered: Readers are more often left not with final answers but with many ways to continue on their own. James D. Stein completed a BA in mathematics at Yale in 1962 and a PhD in mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley in 1967. He taught mathematics for 7 years at the University of California Los Angeles and for 35 years at California State University, Long Beach. His research has focused on Banach spaces and fixed-point theory, and he has written 10 mathematics and science books for the general public. He currently teaches one course per semester at El Camino Community College and is interested in probability theory and its applications to prediction. Cory Brunson is a Research Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. His research focuses on geometric and topological approaches to the analysis of medical and healthcare data. He welcomes book suggestions, listener feedback, and transparent supply chains. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
12/7/20201 hour, 15 minutes, 49 seconds
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Anna Weltman, "Supermath: The Power of Numbers for Good and Evil" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2020)

Mathematics as a subject is distinctive in its symbolic abstraction and its potential for logical and computational rigor. But mathematicians tend to impute other qualities to our subject that set it apart, such as impartiality, universality, and elegance. Far from incidental, these ideas prime mathematicians and the public to see in mathematics the answers—for example, an impartial arbiter, or a meritocratic equalizer—to many urgent societal questions. Anna Weltman's new book, Supermath: The Power of Numbers for Good and Evil (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020), surveys a number of ways this conception of mathematics has informed scientific undertakings and public policies, not to mention our everyday behaviors, and makes a powerful case for reevaluating its assumptions. The book's five chapters contain stories of mathematical exploits from ancient to ongoing and across the spectrum from pure to applied. Many may be familiar, for example active research and journalism into the use and misuse of predictive algorithms or G. H. Hardy's enumeration of the elements of mathematical beauty. Others, including continuing work to interpret Incan documents that survived European colonial erasure and the epidemiological insights obtained from massively multiplayer online gaming, will be new even to many mathematical readers. What they share is the essential but often ignored interplay between theory and culture that makes mathematics a thoroughly human activity. Weltman's book can be read as a call for scholars, educators, and communicators of mathematics to grapple with the power our training and credentialing in mathematics grants us, and to understand that its most basic promise of solving problems is not automatic but one that we must realize. Anna Weltman is a math teacher and writer who earned her PhD in mathematics education from the University of California at Berkeley. She is also the author of This Is Not a Math Book and This Is Not Another Math Book. Cory Brunson (he/him) is a Research Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
12/1/20201 hour, 47 minutes, 20 seconds
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Alfred S. Posamentier, "The Joy of Geometry" (Prometheus, 2020)

Alfred S. Posamentier's The Joy of Geometry (Prometheus, 2020) is a book for someone who has taken geometry but wants to go further. This book, as one might expect, is heavy on diagrams and it is sometimes hard to discuss some of the ideas without reference to a diagram. Also, to be fair, this is not a book intended to be read casually. To fully appreciate this book, it is necessary to sit down, preferably in a comfortable chair with a beverage of one’s choosing, and prepare to give the diagrams a close look. The effort will be well rewarded. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
11/11/202057 minutes, 22 seconds
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Susan D'Agostino, "How to Free Your Inner Mathematician: Notes on Mathematics and Life" (Oxford UP, 2020)

Doing mathematics can be stimulating, deep, and sometimes fantastic. It can also be frustrating, impenetrable, and at times dispiriting. In her new collection of essays, writer and mathematician Susan D'Agostino shows how math itself can be a useful guide through these experiences. How to Free Your Inner Mathematician: Notes on Mathematics and Life (Oxford University Press) draws upon the theorems, applications, and history of mathematics to inspire lessons and advice for us along our mathematical (and other) pursuits. While the math, some familiar and some less so, has clear scientific significance, the lessons help us also appreciate its humanistic value. Delightful illustrations and an (honestly) enjoyable exercise accompany each essay, and readers can jump around the text however they please. This book will appeal to aspiring mathematicians at any career stage, but its most important audience may be the latent mathematicians who have been discouraged from the discipline but are open to a fresh invitation. Susan D'Agostino is a mathematician and writer whose essays have been published in Quanta Magazine, Scientific American, Financial Times, Nature, Undark, Times Higher Education, Chronicle of Higher Education, Math Horizons, Mathematics Teacher, and others. Cory Brunson (he/him) is a Research Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
9/29/20201 hour, 4 minutes, 33 seconds
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Alfred Posamentier, "Mathematics Entertainment for the Millions" (World Scientific Publishing, 2020)

The book being discussed is Mathematics Entertainment for the Millions (World Scientific Publishing Co.), by Alfred Posamentier. In reading this book, it occurred to me that it might equally well have been entitled Millions of Mathematical Entertainments. There may not be millions of entertainments, but there’s an incredible amount – most of it easily accessible to a middle-school or high-school student, and that’s exactly the audience that we want to show how enticing mathematics can be.  Anyone who loves mathematics will find a number of old favorites in this book, but almost certainly there’s a lot of cool stuff you’ve never seen before.  I’ve been looking at math for more than seven decades, and there’s a lot of cool stuff I’d never seen. Alfred S Posamentier is currently Distinguished Lecturer at New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
9/9/202057 minutes, 59 seconds
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David J. Hand, "Dark Data: Why What You Don't Know Matters" (Princeton UP, 2020)

There is no shortage of books on the growing impact of data collection and analysis on our societies, our cultures, and our everyday lives. David Hand's new book Dark Data: Why What You Don't Know Matters (Princeton University Press, 2020) is unique in this genre for its focus on those data that aren't collected or don't get analyzed. More than an introduction to missingness and how to account for it, this book proposes that the whole of data analysis can benefit from a "dark data" perspective—that is, careful consideration of not only what is seen but what is unseen. David assembles wide-ranging examples, from the histories of science and finance to his own research and consultancy, to show how this perspective can shed new light on concepts as classical as random sampling and survey design and as cutting-edge as machine learning and the measurement of honesty. I expect the book to inspire the same enjoyment and reflection in general readers as it is sure to in statisticians and other data analysts. Suggested companion work: Caroline Criado Perez, Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. Cory Brunson (he/him) is a Research Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
9/4/20201 hour, 17 minutes, 3 seconds
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David Bressoud, "Calculus Reordered: A History of the Big Ideas" (Princeton UP, 2019)

Calculus Reordered: A History of the Big Ideas (Princeton UP, 2019) takes readers on a remarkable journey through hundreds of years to tell the story of how calculus evolved into the subject we know today. David Bressoud explains why calculus is credited to seventeenth-century figures Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz, and how its current structure is based on developments that arose in the nineteenth century. Bressoud argues that a pedagogy informed by the historical development of calculus represents a sounder way for students to learn this fascinating area of mathematics. Delving into calculus’s birth in the Hellenistic Eastern Mediterranean—particularly in Syracuse, Sicily and Alexandria, Egypt—as well as India and the Islamic Middle East, Bressoud considers how calculus developed in response to essential questions emerging from engineering and astronomy. He looks at how Newton and Leibniz built their work on a flurry of activity that occurred throughout Europe, and how Italian philosophers such as Galileo Galilei played a particularly important role. In describing calculus’s evolution, Bressoud reveals problems with the standard ordering of its curriculum: limits, differentiation, integration, and series. He contends that the historical order—integration as accumulation, then differentiation as ratios of change, series as sequences of partial sums, and finally limits as they arise from the algebra of inequalities—makes more sense in the classroom environment. Exploring the motivations behind calculus’s discovery, Calculus Reordered highlights how this essential tool of mathematics came to be. David M. Bressoud is DeWitt Wallace Professor of Mathematics at Macalester College and Director of the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences. His many books include Second Year Calculus and A Radical Approach to Lebesgue’s Theory of Integration. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. Mark Molloy is the reviews editor at MAKE: A Literary Magazine. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
8/24/20201 hour, 27 minutes, 28 seconds
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Satyan Devadoss, "Mage Merlin's Unsolved Mathematical Mysteries" (MIT Press, 2020)

There are very few math books that merit the adjective ‘charming’ but Mage Merlin's Unsolved Mathematical Mysteries (MIT Press, 2020) is one of them. Satyan Devadoss and Matt Harvey have chosen a truly unique, creative and charming way to acquaint readers with some of the unsolved problems of mathematics. Some are classic, such as the Goldbach Conjecture, some are fairly well known, such as the Collatz Conjecture. Others are less well known but no less fascinating – and all are intriguing and both enjoyable and tantalizing to contemplate. The authors have woven the problems into a coherent story, and I think you’ll enjoy hearing – and reading – both the story and the associated problems. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
8/13/202057 minutes, 39 seconds
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Cailin O’Connor, "Games in the Philosophy of Biology" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

The branch of mathematics called game theory – the Prisoners Dilemma is a particularly well-known example of a game – is used by philosophers, social scientists, and others to explore many types of social relations between humans and between nonhuman creatures. In Games in the Philosophy of Biology (Cambridge University Press, 2020), Cailin O’Connor introduces the basics of game theory and its particular branch, evolutionary game theory, and discusses how game theoretic models have helped explain the genesis of the meanings of linguistic and nonlinguistic signals, altruistic behavior, the spread of misinformation, and the origins of fair and unfair distributions of benefits in society. O’Connor, who is associate professor of logic and philosophy of science at the University of California–Irvine, also considers some of the drawbacks of game theoretic models. Her short introduction makes a major area of social scientific investigation accessible to readers without mathematical background.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
7/10/20201 hour, 6 minutes, 46 seconds
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B. Fong and D. I. Spivak, "An Invitation to Applied Category Theory: Seven Sketches in Compositionality" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

Category theory is well-known for abstraction—concepts and tools from diverse fields being recognized as specific cases of more foundational structures—though the field has always been driven and shaped by the needs of applications. Moreover, category theory is rarely introduced even to undergraduate math majors, despite its unifying role in theory and its flexibility in application. Postdoctoral Associate Brendan Fong and Research Scientist David I. Spivak, both at MIT, have written a marvelous and timely new textbook that, as its title suggests, invites readers of all backgrounds to explore what it means to take a compositional approach and how it might serve their needs. An Invitation to Applied Category Theory: Seven Sketches in Compositionality (Cambridge University Press, 2019) has few mathematical prerequisites and is designed in part as a gateway to a wide range of more specialized fields. It also centers its treatment on applications, motivating several key developments in terms of real-world use cases. In this interview we discussed their views on the promise of category theory inside and outside mathematics, their motivations for writing this book, several of the accessible examples and remarkable payoffs included in its chapters, and their aspirations for the future of the field. Suggested companion works: --Tai-Danae Bradley, Math3ma --Eugenia Cheng, The Catsters --Saunders Mac Lane, Mathematics Form and Function --F. William Lawvere & Stephen H. Schanuel, Conceptual Mathematics: A First Introduction to Categories --Eugenia Cheng, x + y: A Mathematician's Manifesto for Rethinking Gender Cory Brunson (he/him) is a Research Assistant Professor in the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
7/8/20202 hours, 1 minute, 23 seconds
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Ben Cohen, "The Hot Hand: The Mystery and Science of Streaks" (Custom House, 2020)

For decades, statisticians, social scientists, psychologists, and economists (among them Nobel Prize winners) have spent massive amounts of precious time thinking about whether streaks actually exist. After all, a substantial number of decisions that we make in our everyday lives are quietly rooted in this one question: If something happened before, will it happen again? Is there such a thing as being in the zone? Can someone have a “hot hand”? Or is it simply a case of seeing patterns in randomness? Or, if streaks are possible, where can they be found? In The Hot Hand: The Mystery and Science of Streaks (Custom House, 2020), Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Cohen offers an unfailingly entertaining and provocative investigation into these questions. He begins with how a $35,000 fine and a wild night in New York revived a debate about the existence of streaks that was several generations in the making. We learn how the ability to recognize and then bet against streaks turned a business school dropout named David Booth into a billionaire, and how the subconscious nature of streak-related bias can make the difference between life and death for asylum seekers. We see how previously unrecognized streaks hidden amidst archival data helped solve one of the most haunting mysteries of the twentieth century, the disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg. Cohen also exposes how streak-related incentives can be manipulated, from the five-syllable word that helped break arcade profit records to an arc of black paint that allowed Stephen Curry to transform from future junior high coach into the greatest three-point shooter in NBA history. Crucially, Cohen also explores why false recognition of nonexistent streaks can have cataclysmic results, particularly if you are a sugar beet farmer or the sort of gambler who likes to switch to black on the ninth spin of the roulette wheel. Paul Knepper was born and raised in New York and currently resides in Austin. He used to cover basketball for Bleacher Report and his first book titled Knicks of the Nineties: Ewing, Oakley, Starks and the Brawlers Who Almost Won It All is due out this year. You can reach Paul at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @paulieknep. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
6/25/202043 minutes, 20 seconds
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Brian Greene, "Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe" (Random House, 2020)

Brian Greene is a Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he is the Director of the Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, and co-founder and chair of the World Science Festival. He is well known for his TV mini-series about string theory and the nature of reality, including the Elegant Universe, which tied in with his best-selling 2000 book of the same name. In this episode, we talk about his latest popular book Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe (Random House, 2020) Until the End of Time gives the reader a theory of everything, both in the sense of a “state of the academic union”, covering cosmology and evolution, consciousness and computation, and art and religion, and in the sense of showing us a way to apprehend the often existentially challenging subject matter. Greene uses evocative autobiographical vignettes in the book to personalize his famously lucid and accessible explanations, and we discuss these episodes further in the interview. Greene also reiterates his arguments for embedding a form of spiritual reverie within the multiple naturalistic descriptions of reality that different areas of human knowledge have so far produced. John Weston is a University Teacher of English in the Language Centre at Aalto University, Finland. His research focuses on academic communication. He can be reached at [email protected] and @johnwphd. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
6/2/20202 hours, 37 seconds
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sarah-marie belcastro, "Discrete Mathematics with Ducks" (CRC Press, 2018)

Introductory courses in discrete mathematics cover a variety of distinctive but interconnected topics, from the underpinnings of logic and set theory through overviews of combinatorics and graph theory, which lend themselves to equally diverse presentation styles. In Discrete Mathematics with Ducks (Second Edition; CRC Press, 2018), dr. sarah-marie belcastro has reimagined both course and text. The book is written in an accessible and lighthearted style yet covers the full breadth of conventional topics and several more besides: Early chapters include much valuable advice on how to read, do, and write mathematics—essential points of reference for the mathematically inexperienced or disinclined. Meanwhile, the book includes an introductory chapter on algorithms and several bonus chapters, for example on number theory and on complexity, which instructors and interested students can subset as they please. Each chapter is arranged to support a week of gentle prep reading and discovery-based classroom activity. This makes the book a solid resource for active learning in the mathematics curriculum as well as for independent and group study. Suggested companion work: Daniel Pinkwater, Ducks! Cory Brunson (he/him) is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Quantitative Medicine at UConn Health. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
5/29/202032 minutes, 31 seconds
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Leslie M. Harris, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (University of Georgia Press, 2019), edited by Leslie M. Harris, James T. Campbell, and Alfred L. Brophy, is the first edited collection of scholarly essays devoted solely to the histories and legacies of this subject on North American campuses and in their Atlantic contexts. Gathering together contributions from scholars, activists, and administrators, the volume combines two broad bodies of work: (1) historically based interdisciplinary research on the presence of slavery at higher education institutions in terms of the development of proslavery and antislavery thought and the use of slave labor; and (2) analysis on the ways in which the legacies of slavery in institutions of higher education continued in the post–Civil War era to the present day. The collection features broadly themed essays on issues of religion, economy, and the regional slave trade of the Caribbean. It also includes case studies of slavery’s influence on specific institutions, such as Princeton University, Harvard University, Oberlin College, Emory University, and the University of Alabama. Though the roots of Slavery and the University stem from a 2011 conference at Emory University, the collection extends outward to incorporate recent findings. As such, it offers a roadmap to one of the most exciting developments in the field of U.S. slavery studies and to ways of thinking about racial diversity in the history and current practices of higher education. Today I spoke with Leslie Harris about the book. Dr. Harris is a professor of history at Northwestern University. She is the coeditor, with Ira Berlin, of Slavery in New York and the coeditor, with Daina Ramey Berry, of Slavery and Freedom in Savannah (Georgia). Adam McNeil is a History PhD student at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
4/28/202059 minutes, 35 seconds
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Alex Berke, "Beautiful Symmetry: A Coloring Book about Math" (MIT Press, 2020)

Alex Berke's Beautiful Symmetry (MIT Press, 2020) is both a fascinating book and a concept -- it's like no other book I’ve ever read. It's a coloring book about math, inviting us to engage with mathematical concepts visually through coloring challenges and visual puzzles. We can explore symmetry and the beauty of mathematics playfully, coloring through ideas usually reserved for advanced courses. The book is for children and adults, for math nerds and math avoiders, for educators, students, and coloring enthusiasts. Through illustration, language that is visual, and words that are jargon-free, the book introduces group theory as the mathematical foundation for discussions of symmetry, covering symmetry groups that include the cyclic groups, frieze groups, and wallpaper groups. The illustrations are drawn by algorithms, following the symmetry rules for each given group. The coloring challenges can be completed and fully realized only on the page; solutions are provided. Online, in a complementary digital edition, the illustrations come to life with animated interactions that show the symmetries that generated them. Traditional math curricula focus on arithmetic and the manipulation of numbers, and may make some learners feel that math is not for them. By offering a more visual and tactile approach, this book shows how math can be for everyone. Combining the playful and the pedagogical, Beautiful Symmetry offers both relaxing entertainment for recreational colorers and a resource for math-curious readers, students, and educators. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
4/22/202053 minutes, 35 seconds
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Paul Nahin, "Hot Molecules, Cold Electrons" (Princeton UP, 2020)

Hot Molecules, Cold Electrons: From the Mathematics of Heat to the Development of the Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Cable (Princeton University Press, 2020), by Paul Nahin, is a book that is meant for someone who is comfortable with calculus, but for those readers who are, it is a treat. It is a thorough study of the history and mathematics of the heat equation, which is not only important as an analysis of heat, its analysis marked the beginning of Fourier series. It came as a surprise to me that the heat equation was also instrumental in analyzing the problem of laying the transatlantic cable that was one of the great engineering feats of the nineteenth century. Although it isn’t necessary to work through the math to appreciate this book, I think that students studying this material would not only find Paul’s treatments easy to follow, but would benefit greatly by learning something of the history that surrounds the development of the analysis and applications of the heat equation. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
4/3/202052 minutes, 2 seconds
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Matt Cook, "Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy" (MIT Press, 2020)

Paradox is a sophisticated kind of magic trick. A magician's purpose is to create the appearance of impossibility, to pull a rabbit from an empty hat. Yet paradox doesn't require tangibles, like rabbits or hats. Paradox works in the abstract, with words and concepts and symbols, to create the illusion of contradiction. There are no contradictions in reality, but there can appear to be. In Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy (MIT Press, 2020), Matt Cook and a few collaborators dive deeply into more than 75 paradoxes in mathematics, physics, philosophy, and the social sciences. As each paradox is discussed and resolved, Cook helps readers discover the meaning of knowledge and the proper formation of concepts―and how reason can dispel the illusion of contradiction. The journey begins with “a most ingenious paradox” from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance. Readers will then travel from Ancient Greece to cutting-edge laboratories, encounter infinity and its different sizes, and discover mathematical impossibilities inherent in elections. They will tackle conundrums in probability, induction, geometry, and game theory; perform “supertasks”; build apparent perpetual motion machines; meet twins living in different millennia; explore the strange quantum world―and much more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
3/30/202054 minutes, 19 seconds
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Al Posamentier, "Math Makers: The Lives and Works of 50 Famous Mathematicians" (Prometheus, 2020)

Today I talked to Alfred S. Posamentier, a co-author (with Christian Spreitzer) of Math Makers: The Lives and Works of 50 Famous Mathematicians (Prometheus, 2020). This charming book is more than just mathematics, because mathematicians are not just makers of mathematics. They are human beings whose life stories are often not just entertaining, but are sometimes interwoven with important historical events. Of course you get the math in this book –but I would have read this book just for the fascinating anecdotes. Just for openers, how many other disciplines have people who made remarkable contributions but were arrested for revolutionary activities in their teens, and then killed in a duel at age 21? This is the story of Evariste Galois, just one of the 50 fascinating lives you'll read about in this book. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
3/10/202056 minutes, 37 seconds
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Maureen T. Carroll and Elyn Rykken, "Geometry: The Line and the Circle" (MAA Press, 2018)

From an undergraduate perspective, coming from the rigid proofs and concrete constructions of middle- or high-school courses, the broad discipline of geometry can be at once intimately familiar and menacingly exotic. For most of its history, and perhaps for many of the same reasons, geometers struggled to come to terms with the unsolved problems, unstated assumptions, and untapped generalizability contained in the "bible of mathematics", Euclid's Elements. In their recent text, Geometry: The Line and the Circle (MAA Press, 2018), Maureen T. Carroll and Elyn Rykken have produced a unified survey of Euclidean and many significant non-Euclidean geometries, one that draws from the patterns of historical development to immerse students into progressively new territory. Their book is organized around the Elements but soon (and often) detours into spherical, finite, and other geometries that bring the limitations of the classic text—and the contributions of subsequent geometers—to the fore. Throughout, they examine the shifting roles and behaviors of two fundamental geometric concepts, the line and the circle—a narrative hook that might deserve more play in mathematics texts! In addition to their historical vignettes, Carroll and Rykken include rich selections of exercises and incorporate a variety of tactile and online tools, and their treatment is held together in an accessible and absorbing writing style. The book is tailored to an upper-level undergraduate course but could also support a history of mathematics or introduction to proofs course. Suggested companion works: Edwin A. Abbott, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (+ sequels & film adaptations) Norton Juster, The Dot and the Line (+ film adaptation) Cory Brunson (he/him) is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Quantitative Medicine at UConn Health. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
2/26/202049 minutes, 41 seconds
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Phillipa Chong, “Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times” (Princeton UP, 2020)

How does the world of book reviews work? In Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times (Princeton University Press, 2020), Phillipa Chong, assistant professor in sociology at McMaster University, provides a unique sociological analysis of how critics confront the different types of uncertainty associated with their practice. The book explores how reviewers get matched to books, the ethics and etiquette of negative reviews and ‘punching up’, along with professional identities and the future of criticism. The book is packed with interview material, coupled with accessible and easy to follow theoretical interventions, creating a text that will be of interest to social sciences, humanities, and general readers alike. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
2/25/202042 minutes, 21 seconds
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K. Linder et al., "Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers" (Stylus Publishing, 2020)

If you’re a grad student facing the ugly reality of finding a tenure-track job, you could easily be forgiven for thinking about a career change. However, if you’ve spent the last several years working on a PhD, or if you’re a faculty member whose career has basically consisted of higher ed, switching isn’t so easy. PhD holders are mostly trained to work as professors, and making easy connections to other careers is no mean feat. Because the people you know were generally trained to do the same sorts of things, an easy source of advice might not be there for you. Thankfully, for anybody who wishes there was a guidebook that would just break all of this down, that book has now been written. Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers (Stylus Publishing, 2020) by Kathryn E. Linder, Kevin Kelly, and Thomas J. Tobin offers practical advice and step-by-step instructions on how to decide if you want to leave behind academia and how to start searching for a new career. If a lot of career advice is too vague or too ambiguous, this book corrects that by outlining not just how to figure out what you might want to do, but critically, how you might go about accomplishing that. Zeb Larson is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University with a PhD in History. His research deals with the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. To suggest a recent title or to contact him, please send an e-mail to [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
1/30/202039 minutes, 30 seconds
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Christopher J. Phillips, "Scouting and Scoring: How We Know What We Know About Baseball" (Princeton UP, 2019)

The so-called Sabermetrics revolution in baseball that began in the 1970s, popularized by the book—and later Hollywood film—Moneyball, was supposed to represent a triumph of observation over intuition. Cash-strapped clubs need not compete for hyped-up prospects when undervalued players provide better price per run scored. Q.E.D., right? In Scouting and Scoring: How We Know What We Know About Baseball (Princeton University Press, 2019), historian of science Christopher J. Phillips rejects his titular dualism. He shows us that baseball can be, in the words of seminal anthropologist and noted Tampa Bay Rays fan* Claude Lévi-Strauss, “good to think with.” Both traditional amateur scouts and statistically-savvy scorers rely on metrics and bureaucracy to make their judgments count, as it were. Some like to say that baseball is quantitative at its core, but by tracing the co-evolution of the sport’s competing data sciences—with episodes that bear witness to the development of the modern press and digital computers—Phillips crafts a compelling narrative sure to delight baseball fans and historians of the human sciences alike. *kidding Mikey McGovern is a PhD candidate in Princeton University’s Program in the History of Science. He is writing a dissertation on how people used discrimination statistics to argue about rights in 1970s America, and what this means for histories of bureaucracy, quantification, law, politics, and race. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
1/29/202045 minutes, 47 seconds
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Brian Clegg, "Conundrum: Crack the Ultimate Cipher Challenge" (Icon Books, 2019)

The book we are discussing is by Brian Clegg, a well-known author of books on math and science -- but this is not exactly a book on math or science, although these subjects play a significant role. His latest book is Conundrum: Crack the Ultimate Cipher Challenge (Icon Books, 2019), which should delight and intrigue not only those who love math and science, but those who love solving puzzles. This book is a literary escape room, with a series of puzzles to be solved, all of which contribute to a final puzzle that concludes the book. And like the clues one finds in an escape room, Brian mercifully offers hints for the puzzles. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
1/28/202054 minutes, 1 second
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David Spiegelhalter, "The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data" (Basic, 2019)

Today's guest is distinguished researcher and statistician, Sir David Spiegelhalter. A fellow of the Royal Society, he is currently Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge. He has dedicated his career, in his words to, “improving the way that quantitative evidence is used in society.” This includes (of particular interest to us) biostatistics and medical research. David is an ISI highly cited researcher who has also focused much of his time and energy to public education through numerous media appearances, documentaries such as his recent BBC series geared towards children, and books such as the one we are discussing today. That book, The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data, was published in the UK by Penguin in March, 2019 and recently released here in the US by Basic Books in September 2019. Colin Miller and Dr. Keith Mankin host the popular medical podcast, PeerSpectrum. Colin works in the medical device space and Keith is a retired pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
12/13/20191 hour, 2 minutes, 44 seconds
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Gary Meisner, "The Golden Ratio: The Divine Beauty of Mathematics" (Race Point Press, 2018)

From the pyramids of Giza, to quasicrystals, to the proportions of the human face, the golden ratio has an infinite capacity to generate shapes with exquisite properties. This book invites you to take a new look at this timeless topic, with a compilation of research and information worthy of a text book, accompanied by over 200 beautiful color illustrations that transform this into the ultimate coffee table book. In The Golden Ratio: The Divine Beauty of Mathematics (Race Point Press, 2018), Gary Meisner shares the results of his twenty-year investigation and collaboration with thousands of people across the globe in dozens of professions and walks of life. The evidence will close the gaps of understanding related to many claims of the golden ratio’s appearances and applications, and present new findings to take our knowledge further yet. Whoever you are, and whatever you may know about this topic, you’ll find something new, interesting, and informative in this book, and may find yourself challenged to see, apply, and share this unique number of mathematics and science in new ways. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
11/22/201940 minutes, 56 seconds
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Julian Havil, "Curves for the Mathematically Curious" (Princeton UP, 2019)

Today I talked to Julian Havil about his latest book Curves for the Mathematically Curious: An Anthology of the Unpredictable, Historical, Beautiful, and Romantic (Princeton University Press, 2019). You don’t have to be mathematically curious to appreciate Julian’s talent for weaving mathematics and history together – but mathematical curiosity and a year or two of calculus will greatly add to your enjoyment of it. This is not your father’s – or grandfather’s – standard collection of conic sections, with perhaps a few curves of higher degree thrown in. This is a collection of elegant, unusual, and mathematically significant curves, chosen by a connoisseur, and beautifully presented for your delectation. You may recognize a few old favorites – the catenary and the normal curve come to mind – but many of the others will be new to you, as they were to me. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
11/15/201959 minutes, 41 seconds
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Margaret E. Schotte, "Sailing School: Navigating Science and Skill, 1550-1800" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2019)

Throughout the Age of Exploration, European maritime communities bent on colonial and commercial expansion embraced the complex mechanics of celestial navigation. They developed schools, textbooks, and instruments to teach the new mathematical techniques to sailors. As these experts debated the value of theory and practice, memory and mathematics, they created hybrid models that would have a lasting impact on applied science. In Sailing School: Navigating Science and Skill, 1550-1800 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019), a richly illustrated comparative study of this transformative period, Margaret E. Schotte charts more than two hundred years of navigational history as she investigates how mariners solved the challenges of navigating beyond sight of land. She begins by outlining the influential sixteenth-century Iberian model for training and certifying nautical practitioners. She takes us into a Dutch bookshop stocked with maritime manuals and a French trigonometry lesson devoted to the idea that "navigation is nothing more than a right triangle." The story culminates at the close of the eighteenth century with a young British naval officer who managed to keep his damaged vessel afloat for two long months, thanks largely to lessons he learned as a keen student. This is the first study to trace the importance, for the navigator's art, of the world of print. Schotte interrogates a wide variety of archival records from six countries, including hundreds of published textbooks and never-before-studied manuscripts crafted by practitioners themselves. Ultimately, Sailing School helps us to rethink the relationship among maritime history, the Scientific Revolution, and the rise of print culture during a period of unparalleled innovation and global expansion. Lukas Rieppel teaches at Brown University. You can find more about him here, or find him on twitter here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
11/14/201956 minutes, 56 seconds
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Kathryn Conrad on University Press Publishing

As you may know, university presses publish a lot of good books. In fact, they publish thousands of them every year. They are different from most trade books in that most of them are what you might called "fundamental research." Their authors--dedicated researchers one and all--provide the scholarly stuff upon which many non-fiction trade books are based. So when you are reading, say, a popular history, you are often reading UP books at one remove. Of course, some UP books are also bestsellers, and they are all well written (and, I should say, thoroughly vetted thanks to the peer review system), but the greatest contribution of UPs is to provide a base of fundamental research to the public. And they do a great job of it. How do they do it? Today I talked to Kathryn Conrad, the president of the Association of University Presses, about the work of UPs, the challenges they face, and some terrific new directions they are going. We also talked about why, if you have a scholarly book in progress, you should talk to UP editors early and often. And she explains how! Listen in. Marshall Poe is the editor of the New Books Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
11/3/201940 minutes, 25 seconds
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David S. Richeson, "Tales of Impossibility" (Princeton UP, 2019)

David S. Richeson's book Tales of Impossibility: The 2000-Year Quest to Solve the Mathematical Problems of Antiquity (Princeton University Press, 2019) is the fascinating story of the 2000 year quest to solve four of the most perplexing problems of antiquity: squaring the circle, duplicating the cube, trisecting the angle, and constructing regular polygons. The eventual conclusion was that all four of these problems could not be solved under the conditions laid out millennia ago. But it's also an engaging tale of some of the greatest mathematicians, and some not-so-well known ones, who met the challenge and moved mathematics forward in ways that the Greek geometers could never have envisioned. Even if you never read a single proof through to its conclusion, you'll enjoy the many entertaining side trips into a geometry far beyond what you learned in high school. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
10/30/201953 minutes, 40 seconds
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J. Neuhaus, "Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to Be Effective Teachers" (West Virginia UP, 2019)

The things that make people academics -- as deep fascination with some arcane subject, often bordering on obsession, and a comfort with the solitude that developing expertise requires -- do not necessarily make us good teachers. Jessamyn Neuhaus’s Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to Be Effective Teachers (West Virginia University Press, 2019) helps us to identify and embrace that geekiness in us and then offers practical, step-by-step guidelines for how to turn it to effective pedagogy. It’s a sharp, slim, and entertaining volume that can make better teachers of us all. Stephen Pimpare is Senior Lecturer in the Politics & Society Program and Faculty Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. He is the author of The New Victorians (New Press, 2004), A Peoples History of Poverty in America (New Press, 2008), winner of the Michael Harrington Award, and Ghettos, Tramps and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen (Oxford, 2017). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
10/24/201932 minutes, 43 seconds
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David Lindsay Roberts, "Republic of Numbers: Unexpected Stories of Mathematical Americans through History" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2019)

The institutional history of mathematics in the United States comprises several entangled traditions—military, civil, academic, industrial—each of which merits its own treatment. David Lindsay Roberts, adjunct professor of mathematics at Prince George's Community College, takes a very different approach. His unique book, Republic of Numbers: Unexpected Stories of Mathematical Americans through History(Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019), anchors 20 biographical chapters to a decadal series of events, whose mathematical significance could not often have been anticipated. These short biographies range from the inauguration of military and civil engineering (Sylvanus Thayer) and the textbook industry (Catharine Beecher and Joseph Ray) to the influence of geopolitics during and after the Cold War (Joaquin Basilio Diaz, John F. Nash Jr.), and over the course of the book the subjects witness the professionalization of the research community (Charles H. Davis), radical expansions of educational access (Kelly Miller, Edgar L. Edwards Jr.), and contentious, transgenerational debates over curriculum design (Izaak Wirzsup, Frank B. Allen), among many other themes. Through their professional and institutional connections, the subjects of the chapters form a connected component, providing intriguing narrative hooks across time, geography, and status while evidencing the tightly bound community of American mathematics scholarship. The book can be read as professional history or as a collection of biographical essays, and i expect it to become a charming entry point for mathematical, historical, or not-yet-hooked readers into the forces that have shaped the discipline. Suggested companion work: David E. Zitarelli, A History of Mathematics in the United States and Canada: Volume 1: 1492–1900. Cory Brunson (he/him) is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Quantitative Medicine at UConn Health. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
10/17/20191 hour, 13 minutes, 57 seconds
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Alfred S. Posamentier, "Tools to Help Your Children Learn Math" (WSPC, 2019)

Our guest today is Al Posamentier, the lead author of Tools to Help Your Children Learn Math (WSPC, 2019). Helping your children with math is one of the most important things a parent can do to further their children’s educational progress, and Al has teamed with other math educators, psychologists, and counselors to write a book which many will find extremely helpful in what is often a difficult and frustrating job. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
9/16/201957 minutes, 33 seconds
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Davide Crippa, The Impossibility of Squaring the Circle in the 17th Century" (Birkhäuser, 2019)

From 1667 to 1676, a pivotal controversy played out among several mathematical luminaries of the time, partly in the proceedings of the Royal Society but partly in private correspondence. The controversy concerned whether an infamous problem of Ancient Greek geometry, the quadrature of the central conic sections (better known as squaring the circle), could be solved using the classical tools of straightedge and compass. While its impossibility would not be rigorously proven for two more centuries, the theoretical and philosophical implications of these attempts to settle the issue were constitutive of the contemporaneous development of calculus. Dr. Davide Crippa's book The Impossibility of Squaring the Circle in the 17th Century (Birkhäuser, 2019) is a deep dive into this little-covered episode in the modern European history of mathematics. He examines the advances of Gregory and Leibniz in full mathematical detail, clarifying in current notation and elegant figures the steps and missteps of their constructions and arguments, and in some cases through the lens of critical and often fierce exchanges with their peers, including recently-published correspondence that traces the former's influence on the latter's efforts. The book reveals The Impossibility of Squaring the Circle in the 17th Century to have been a sensation of its time, and deserving of a treatment of its own. Cory Brunson (he/him) is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Quantitative Medicine at UConn Health. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
8/28/20191 hour, 36 seconds
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Chris Bernhardt, "Quantum Computing for Everyone" (MIT Press, 2019)

Today I talked with Chris Bernhardt about his book Quantum Computing for Everyone (MIT Press, 2019). This is a book that involves a lot of mathematics, but most of it is accessible to anyone who survived high school algebra.  Even a math-phobic can read the book, skip the math, and then more than hold his or her own in any but the highest-level discussion of quantum computing.  For those of us who love math, the underlying math is elegantly simple and beautifully presented – and the same can be said of the non-mathematical material. as well.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
5/2/201956 minutes, 26 seconds
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Discussion of Massive Online Peer Review and Open Access Publishing

In the information age, knowledge is power. Hence, facilitating the access to knowledge to wider publics empowers citizens and makes societies more democratic. How can publishers and authors contribute to this process? This podcast addresses this issue. We interview Professor Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick, whose book, The Good Drone: How Social Movements Democratize Surveillance (forthcoming with MIT Press) is undergoing a Massive Online Peer-Review (MOPR) process, where everyone can make comments on his manuscript. Additionally, his book will be Open Access (OA) since the date of publication. We discuss with him how do MOPR and OA work, how he managed to combine both of them and how these initiatives can contribute to the democratization of knowledge. You can participate in the MOPR process of The Good Drone through this link: https://thegooddrone.pubpub.org/ Felipe G. Santos is a PhD candidate at the Central European University. His research is focused on how activists care for each other and how care practices within social movements mobilize and radicalize heavily aggrieved collectives. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
3/19/201932 minutes, 15 seconds
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Kartik Hosanagar, "A Human’s Guide to Machine Intelligence: How Algorithms Are Shaping Our Lives" (Viking, 2019)

Our guest today is Kartik Hosanagar, the author of A Human’s Guide to Machine Intelligence: How Algorithms Are Shaping Our Lives and How We Can Stay in Control(Viking, 2019). This is one of those rare books that I think everyone can read and I think everyone should read. In fact, knowledge of algorithms can in some sense be considered to be the literacy of the 21st century, and the author has written a book which can greatly held advance this type of literacy. If you want to become 21st-century literate, you should read this instructive and immensely enjoyable book. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
3/12/201955 minutes, 36 seconds
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Andrew C. A. Elliott, “Is That a Big Number?” (Oxford UP, 2018)

Andrew C. A. Elliott‘s Is That a Big Number? (Oxford University Press, 2018) is a book that those of us who feast on numbers will absolutely adore, but will also tease the palates of those for whom numbers have previously been somewhat distasteful.  This book helps us not only to realize the relative magnitudes of many of the numbers which surround us, but also helps us understand precisely how and why our understanding of the universe often comes down to the numbers which describe it.  It’s just a shame that Pythagoras, who was reputed to say that “All is number,” isn’t around to appreciate it. By the way, the Elliot maintains a great website called “Is That a Big Number.” Well worth visiting! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
11/9/201853 minutes, 22 seconds
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Al Posamentier and Christian Speitzer, “The Mathematics of Everyday Life” (Prometheus Books, 2018)

Today I talked to Al Posamentier about his books (co-authored with Christian Speitzer) The Mathematics of Everyday Life (Prometheus Books, 2018).  We all are told – practically from the moment we enter school – that mathematics is important because it permeates practically all aspects of our lives.  But, for the most part, we don’t really notice it except for those moments, such as when we balance a checkbook, that we know we’re doing mathematics.  This book, which requires nothing more than high-school math, is a wonderful way to see that mathematics really is all around us, in our home, in our workplace, in the entertainments we enjoy, and in the world we live in. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
10/8/201850 minutes, 26 seconds
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Eli Maor, “Music by the Numbers: From Pythagoras to Schoenberg” (Princeton UP, 2018)

Most of us have heard of the math-music connection, but Eli Maor’s Music by the Numbers: From Pythagoras to Schoenberg (Princeton University Press, 2018) is THE book that explains what that connection is, and how both math and music connect to both physics and biology.  There are wonderful anecdotes detailing the lives and creations of many of the great musicians, mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers who have contributed to creating music and our understanding of it.  If you love music – and who doesn’t – you’ll enjoy reading this book, even if you don’t love math.  And maybe, even if you don’t love math, you’ll have a greater appreciation of it after you finish the book. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
7/18/201856 minutes, 27 seconds
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Vicky Neale, “Closing the Gap: The Quest to Understand Prime Numbers” (Oxford UP, 2017)

Today I talked to Vicky Neale about her new book Closing the Gap: The Quest to Understand Prime Numbers (Oxford University Press, 2017). The book details one of the most exciting developments to happen in the last few years in mathematics, a new approach to the Twin Primes Conjecture. The story involves mathematicians from five different centuries and probably every continent except Antarctica. Vicky does a great job of telling not only what the problem is and how work on it has proceeded, but also how mathematical research has evolved given the resources available in the twenty first century. If you like numbers, you’ll love this book—and if you don’t like numbers, maybe this book can help you appreciate them. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
12/12/201755 minutes, 14 seconds
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Alfred Posamentier et. al., “The Joy of Mathematics: Marvels, Novelties, and Neglected Gems That Are Rarely Taught in Math Class” (Prometheus Books, 2017)

The book discussed here is the The Joy of Mathematics (Prometheus Books, 2017), whose lead author, Alfred Posamentier, is our guest today. The subtitle Marvels, Novelties, and Neglected Gems That Are Rarely Taught in Math Classdescribes the book nicely. Much of the book can be read by someone with only a couple of years of high school math, and the book does a terrific job of showing the reader why those of us who love math do so. We like arithmetic, algebra, geometry, infinity, and the counterintuitively surprising, and the book contains lovely examples of all of these. Enjoy! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
10/16/201757 minutes, 1 second
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Brian Clegg, “Big Data: How the Information Revolution Is Transforming Our Lives” (Icon Books, 2017)

Big Data: How the Information Revolution Is Transforming Our Lives (Icon Books, 2017), by Brian Clegg, is a relatively short book about a subject that has emerged only recently, but is rapidly becoming a significant force in the evolution of society. Most of us have heard the term “big data,” but many of us erroneously assume that its just a lot of little data. It’s considerably more than that, and Big Data, which is an easy and fun read, serves as a terrific introduction to a topic which has an ever-increasing impact on many aspects of our lives. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
9/19/201754 minutes, 58 seconds
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Brian Clegg, “The Reality Frame: Relativity and Our Place in the Universe” (Icon Books, 2017)

Brian Clegg is one of England’s most prolific and popular writers on science. His latest work, The Reality Frame: Relativity and Our Place in the Universe (Icon Books, 2017), covers Einstein’s Theories of Relativity and a whole lot more. Simply as an exposition of Einstein’s theories, the book is excellent its beautifully organized and delivered, with Clegg’s usual clarity and insight. But what makes the book transcend the usual work on this subject is that Clegg looks at relativity as a concept that can help us understand what distinguishes humanity as a species, and where our species fits into the Universe. Einstein himself would have enjoyed participating in a discussion of this fascinating topic, and may well have shared some of Clegg’s points of view. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
6/29/201752 minutes, 1 second
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Oscar Fernandez, “The Calculus of Happiness” (Princeton UP, 2017)

The book discussed here is entitled The Calculus of Happiness: How a Mathematical Approach to Life Adds Up to Health, Wealth, and Love (Princeton University Press, 2017) by Oscar Fernandez. If the thought of calculus makes you nervous, don’t worry, you won’t need calculus to enjoy and appreciate this book. Its actually an intriguing way to introduce some of the precalculus topics that will later be needed in a calculus class, through the examination of some of the basic mathematical ideas that can be used to analyze the problems of how to attain relationship bliss, live long, and prosper and all without being a Vulcan. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
6/11/201753 minutes, 56 seconds
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David Danks, “Unifying the Mind: Cognitive Representations as Graphical Models” (MIT Press, 2014)

For many cognitive scientists, psychologists, and philosophers of mind, the best current theory of cognition holds that thinking is in some sense computation “in some sense,” because that core idea can and has been elaborated in a number of different ways that are or at least seem to be incompatible in at least some respects. In Unifying the Mind: Cognitive Representations as Graphical Models (MIT Press, 2014), David Danks proposes a version of this basic theory that links the mind closely with the computational framework used in machine learning: the idea that thinking involves manipulation of symbols encoded as graphical models. Danks, who is Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, argues that graphical models provide a unifying explanation of why we are able to move smoothly between different cognitive processes and why we are able to focus on features of situations that are relevant to our goals. While the book includes the mathematics behind graphical models, Danks explains his proposal in accessible yet precise terms for the non-mathematically trained reader. He discusses how graphical models work in causal reasoning, categorization, and other processes, how his view is related to more familiar cognitive frameworks, and some implications of his view for modularity and other traditional debates. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
5/15/20171 hour, 9 minutes, 7 seconds
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Raffi Grinberg, “The Real Analysis Lifesaver: All the Tools You Need to Understand Proofs” (Princeton UP, 2017)

If ever there were a course that needs a book like Raffi Grinberg’s The Real Analysis Lifesaver: All the Tools You Need to Understand Proofs (Princeton University Press, 20170, analysis is unquestionably it, and I only wish that Raffi had gotten into the wayback machine and delivered me a copy when I was taking this course more than half a century ago. I got a C+, and almost certainly would have done a lot better if I’d had this book, and so will present and future students who struggle with this course. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
2/15/201753 minutes, 48 seconds
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Matthew L. Jones, “Reckoning with Matter: Calculating Machines, Innovation, and Thinking about Thinking from Pascal to Babbage” (U. Chicago Press, 2016)

Matthew L. Jones’s wonderful new book traces a history of failed efforts to make calculating machines, from Blaise Pascal’s work in the 1640s through the efforts of Charles Babbage in the nineteenth century, incorporating an account of both the work and relationships of scholars and artisans, and their reflections on the nature of invention. Innovative in its approach and its form, Reckoning with Matter: Calculating Machines, Innovation, and Thinking about Thinking from Pascal to Babbage (University of Chicago Press, 2016) offers a thoughtful and beautifully-written history of technology that offers an important perspective on a division between two poles of writing the history of technology: “the collective, deterministic account of inventive activity and the individualistic, heroic, creative account (7).” In Jones’s hands, we are offered a third way of understanding cultural production in early modernity, one that did not bifurcate between imitation and originality, social and individual making, or design and production. Central to the story is the history of efforts to mechanize the process of carrying ones in addition, and this fascinating problem persists as a thread through many of the projects discussed in the book. On the pages of Reckoning with Matter, readers will not only enjoy a compelling account of machine calculation through the nineteenth century, but will also find the story of a frog that tears out the eyes of a fish, a man who designed machines for making breakfast, and discussions of the significance of credit and intellectual property, modern programming, sketching, imitation, and debates over the nature of thinking. Highly recommended!   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
1/23/20171 hour, 4 minutes, 38 seconds
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Brian Clegg, “Are Numbers Real? The Uncanny Relationship of Mathematics and the Physical World (St. Martin’s Press, 2016)

Brian Clegg’s Are Numbers Real? The Uncanny Relationship of Mathematics and the Physical World (St. Martin’s Press, 2016) is a compact, very readable, and highly entertaining history of the development and use of mathematics to answer the important practical questions involved in advancing civilization. The question “Are Numbers Real?” is a terrific way to attack the problem so compellingly stated by the physicist Eugene Wigner what accounts for the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in describing the natural and the man-made Universe? Some of Clegg’s journey from the basics of counting through the intricate mathematical structures currently being used to explore reality will be familiar to the experienced reader. But even such a reader will find new insights and pleasures in the book and for those just starting out on their intellectual journey, Are Numbers Real? Is a superb introduction to mathematics, science, and that branch of philosophy devoted to exploring the nature of reality. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
1/4/201752 minutes, 58 seconds
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Ian Stewart, “Calculating the Cosmos: How Mathematics Unveils the Universe” (Basic Books, 2016)

The book discussed here is Ian Stewart’s Calculating the Cosmos: How Mathematics Unveils the Universe (Basic Books, 2016). If you would like to read a book that in my opinion represents the nicest job of presenting astronomy and cosmology in one volume since Isaac Asimov wrote The Universe half a century ago, this is absolutely the one to get. In addition, for those of us who are lovers of math, this book does a far better job than Asimov of presenting the close relationship between mathematics, astronomy, and cosmology. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
12/29/201655 minutes, 55 seconds
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Alfred Posamentier and Stephen Krulik, “Effective Techniques to Motivate Mathematics Instruction” (Routledge, 2016)

From the title, you might guess that Alfred Posamentier and Stephen Krulik’s Effective Techniques to Motivate Mathematics Instruction (Routledge, 2016) is aimed at mathematics teachers which it is. However, the techniques and strategies discussed in the book can be effectively employed by a much larger group of people, and one who hasconsiderably more influence with students. Those people are parents, who play as large or larger a role in their children’s education than do teachers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
10/1/201655 minutes, 25 seconds
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Alfred S. Posamentier and Robert Geretschlager, “The Circle: A Mathematical Exploration Beyond the Line” (Prometheus Books, 2016)

Alfred S. Posamentier and Robert Geretschlager, The Circle: A Mathematical Exploration Beyond the Line (Prometheus Books, 2016) goes considerably beyond what its modest title would suggest. The circle has played a pivotal role–that’s “role” with an ‘e,’ but its ability to “roll” with an ‘l’–has helped produce our industrial civilization. Moreover, the circle appears in our art, our literature, and our culture as well. This delightful book will not only reacquaint readers with the pleasures of the geometry they once knew, but will show how the circle continues to enchant mathematicians today, who continue to discover new and surprising properties about this most fundamental of shapes. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
9/11/201655 minutes, 31 seconds
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Beineke and Rosenhouse, eds., “The Mathematics of Various Entertaining Subjects: Research in Recreational Math” (Princeton UP, 2015)

Jennifer Beineke and Jason Rosenhouse‘s new book The Mathematics of Various Entertaining Subjects: Research in Recreational Math (Princeton University Press, 2015) covers a multitude of topics and is in many ways as entertaining as the various subjects it describes. Even though the book can be skimmed simply to expose one to various aspects of recreational mathematics, I think it’s fair to say that some mathematical background is needed to fully appreciate it. But even if you’re only willing to skim the book, you’re going to find sections which will make you want to dive in more deeply. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
5/23/201655 minutes, 16 seconds
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Adam Kucharski, “The Perfect Bet: How Science and Math Are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling” (Basic Books, 2016)

Adam Kucharski, who won the 2012 Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize, has delivered another winner in an area rife with both winners and losers. The Perfect Bet: How Science and Math Are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling (Basic Books, 2016) is a brilliant, fascinating, and sometimes slightly terrifying look at how math and science are not just conquering gambling, the algorithms that math has devised and the computerized means of implementing them are paradoxically simultaneously removing risk and creating a lot more of it. Jim Stein is an emeritus professor of mathematics at California State University, Long Beach. As has been noted, the word ’emeritus’ comes from the Latin ‘ex’ — meaning ‘out’ — and ‘meritus’ — meaning ‘ought to be’. Despite that, Jim still teaches a course a semester, either at CSULB or El Camino Community College. He is the author of L.A. Math: Romance, Crime and Mathematics in the City of Angels, Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers That Define the Universe, The Paranormal Equation, How Math Can Save Your Life, The Right Decision, and How Math Can Save the World. He responds to any and all emails addressed to [email protected] Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
3/31/201652 minutes, 42 seconds
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James D. Stein, “L.A. Math: Romance, Crime, and Mathematics in the City of Angels” (Princeton UP, 2016)

Romance. Crime. Mathematics. These things do not go together. Or do they? James D. Stein thinks they do, and he admirably shows us how in his wonderful collection of stories L.A. Math: Romance, Crime, and Mathematics in the City of Angels (Princeton University Press, 2016). Jim’s a mathematician, but don’t let that put you off: he’s the author of several popular books and an excellent writer at that. In this interview we talk about writing “clean”, math-phobia, and what everyone should really know, math-wise. Listen in. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
2/24/201659 minutes, 44 seconds
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Lynn Gamwell, “Mathematics and Art: A Cultural History” (Princeton UP, 2015)

Today I’m talking with Lynn Gamwell about Mathematics and Art: A Cultural History (Princeton University Press, 2015). This book is a breathtaking combination of scholarship and beauty, tracing the interplay of mathematics and art throughout mankind’s history, East and West. Gamwell is a lecturer in the history of mathematics and science at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and thus she is uniquely positioned to write a book that brings together the two disparate cultures described by C.P. Snow in his 1959 essay. Snow would have appreciated how the author communicates the depth, passion, and beauty that characterize each culture, while describing how each inspires the other. The in-depth discussion is brought to life by 440 stunning artworks and 102 crystal-clear math diagrams. This is a big, beautifully produced book that you will want to place on your coffee table. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
1/5/201659 minutes, 18 seconds
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Brian Clegg, “How Many Moons Does the Earth Have? The Ultimate Science Quiz Book” (Icon Books, 2015)

Brian Clegg, who is arguably the most prolific science writer since Isaac Asimov, and almost certainly the most prolific British one, has written a delightfully tantalizing book entitled How Many Moons Does the Earth Have? The Ultimate Science Quiz Book (Icon Books, 2015). It’s a delectable collection of science quiz questions – and although it includes classics such as “Why Is the Sky Blue?”, many will seriously challenge even the most knowledgeable. You may finish the quiz a lot more humble about your scientific knowledge (as did your humbled correspondent), but that is more than compensated by how much you’ll learn about some of the more intriguing and sometimes lesser-known aspects of science — and how much you’ll enjoy it. And isn’t that why you want to read about science in the first place? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
12/7/201554 minutes, 2 seconds
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Dan Bouk, “How Our Days Became Numbered: Risk and the Rise of the Statistical Individual” (U of Chicago Press, 2015)

Who made life risky? In his dynamic new book, How Our Days Became Numbered: Risk and the Rise of the Statistical Individual (University of Chicago Press, 2015), historian Dan Bouk argues that starting in the late nineteenth century, the life-insurance industry embedded risk-making within American society and American psyches. Bouk is assistant professor of history at Colgate University, and his new book shows how insurers categorized individuals and grouped social classes in ways that assigned monetary value to race, class, lifestyles, and bodies. With lively prose, Bouk gives historical context and character to the rise of the “statistical individual” from the Guided Age to the New Deal. Bouk’s primary argument is that risks did not always already exist, nor was risk invented by the medical establishment. Instead, the threat (and reality) of economic crisis helped insurers to create risk as a commodity, and eventually to control the lives it measured. As Bouk phrases it in the interview, “Insurers improved their bottom line by improving Americans’ bottom lines.” Bouk invites readers critically to reflect upon how we have come to see ourselves through a statistical lens in our daily lives– an issue of continued relevance in the age of big data and vast analytical capabilities. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
11/23/201544 minutes, 7 seconds
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John Allen Paulos, “A Numerate Life” (Prometheus Books, 2015)

John Allen Paulos, who has accomplished the unheard-of double of writing best-sellers about mathematics and inserting a word (‘innumeracy’) into the language, has attempted another ambitious feat – bringing mathematics to bear on one of the few subjects it has yet to examine: biography and autobiography. A Numerate Life (Prometheus Books, 2015) is simultaneously a charming memoir and a highly entertaining venture into mathematics, literature, and philosophy. This is one of those rare books that, when you have finished a section, you are torn between going on to the next section and re-reading the last section to make sure that you got everything out of it. The subtitle of the book is “A Mathematician Explores the Vagaries of Life, His Own and Probably Yours”. You’ll be a little skeptical about that subtitle before you read the book, but when you finish it, you’ll realize the subtitle nails it — he’s talking, not just about himself, but about you. fascinating read. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
11/12/201553 minutes, 39 seconds
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Arthur Benjamin, “The Magic of Math” (Basic Book, 2015)

Today we’ll be talking about The Magic of Math (Basic Books, 2015)by Arthur Benjamin. This is a book that has the gee-whiz feeling you got when you first encountered George Gamow’s classic One, Two, Three … Infinity, but brought up to date and with much more in the way of solid mathematics that students can actually use. What makes this book especially appealing is that Benjamin emphasizes the magic that can be found in the mathematics that students study as they proceed through elementary and secondary schools. Students study arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry, but too often the way these courses are taught resembles hospital food – nourishing but tasteless. Every teacher should have a copy of The Magic of Math to help combat the blandness and boredom that students too often experience in the classroom. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
9/30/201556 minutes, 29 seconds
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Margaret Morrison, “Reconstructing Reality: Models, Mathematics, and Simulations” (Oxford UP, 2015)

Almost 400 years ago, Galileo wrote that the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. Today, mathematics is integral to physics and chemistry, and is becoming so in biology, economics, and other sciences, although amid great controversy. The messy reality of biological creatures and their social relations cannot be captured in mathematical models or computer simulations, it is argued. But what is the relation between mathematics and physical reality? Do highly abstract mathematical formalisms and computer simulations yield empirical knowledge? If so, when, and how? In Reconstructing Reality: Models, Mathematics and Simulations (Oxford University Press, 2015), Margaret Morrison, Professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, considers the epistemological status of the results of modeling and simulation as compared, and typically contrasted with, the results of experiment. She argues that no sharp distinction between simulating the world and measuring the world can be drawn in modern science, and that there is no justification for epistemically privileging the results of experiments over the new knowledge we derive from idealizations, abstractions, and fictional models. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
7/15/20151 hour, 8 minutes, 30 seconds
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Christopher J. Phillips, “The New Math: A Political History” (U of Chicago Press, 2015)

Christopher J. Phillips‘ new book is a political history of the “New Math,” a collection of curriculum reform projects in the 1950s & 1960s that were partially sponsored by the NSF and involved hundreds of mathematicians, teachers, professors, administrators, parents, and students. The New Math: A Political History (University of Chicago Press, 2015) explores the formation of an idea of the “American subject” in an environment where math was considered to be a component of intelligent citizenship. As classrooms became sites shaped by Cold War politics, efforts to reform mathematics curricula were bound up in ideas of subjectivity and discipline. Phillips pays special attention to the work of the School Mathematics Study Group (SMSG) in this context, looking closely at the textbooks that the SMSG produced for children studying at a range of levels. Importantly, The New Math explores not just the production of these textbooks but also what happened when they were actually brought into American classrooms and engaged by teachers, students, and parents. As a result, in addition to being a fascinating political history it’s also a model of how we can treat the archaeology of the classroom as a way to approach the history of science. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
3/26/20151 hour, 7 minutes, 46 seconds
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Colin Adams, “Zombies and Calculus” (Princeton UP, 2014)

The book discussed in this interview is Zombies and Calculus (Princeton University Press, 2014) by Colin Adams.   This is a truly unique book; a novel written in the first-person by the survivor of a zombie apocalypse who has managed to make it that far thanks to his knowledge of calculus.  The author starts his narrative by warning the reader that the book is not for the squeamish, but you shouldn’t be deterred by that, as I found the zombies to be more comical than horrific.  The book is especially worthwhile for the way it introduces some of the really intriguing applications of calculus that are not typically found in the standard three-semester calculus sequence, and the author has done a good job of making those applications relevant to his tale.  In an era when education competes with entertainment for attention – and generally fights a losing battle – books such as Zombies and Calculus are to be applauded.  They may prevent some of those taking math courses from becoming classroom zombies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
10/15/201453 minutes
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Jordan Ellenberg, “How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking” (Penguin Press, 2014)

The book discussed in this interview is How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking (Penguin Press, 2014), by Jordan Ellenberg.  This is one of those rare books that belong on the reading list of every educated person, especially those who love mathematics, but more importantly, those who hate it.  Ellenberg succeeds in explaining the value of mathematical reasoning without ever needing to go into technical detail, which makes the book ideal for those who want to learn why mathematics is so important.  What makes the book doubly delightful is Ellenberg’s writing style; he intersperses the math with amusing anecdotes, dispensed with a sense of humor rarely found in books such as this.  The book is chock-full of OMG moments; the introductory anecdote about Abraham Wald and the missing bullet holes absolutely whets the appetite for more and Ellenberg never fails to deliver. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
7/8/201455 minutes, 17 seconds
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Sue VanHattum, “Playing with Math: Stories from Math Circles, Homeschoolers, and Passionate Teachers” (Natural Math, 2015)

[Re-published with permission from Inspired by Math] Sue VanHattum is a math professor, blogger, mother, author/editor, and fundraiser. She’s a real powerhouse of motivation for making math fun and accessible to more of our young folks. Sue has teamed up with a number of writers to compile a book, Playing With Math, which she is producing in partnership withMaria Droujkova in a community sponsored publication model. Sue and I shared a delightful chat about what math is, what the book is about, and how we can all get more inspired to engage in math with our kids. And, Sue sprinkles the conversation with some interesting open-ended math problems. Think part coffee table conversation part math circle. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
6/26/20141 hour, 2 minutes, 44 seconds
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Al Cuoco and Joe Rotman, “Learning Modern Algebra: From Early Attempts to Prove Fermat’s Last Theorem” (MAA, 2013)

[Re-published with permission from Inspired by Math] The MAA (Mathematical Association of America) sent me a review copy of their new book Learning Modern Algebra: From Early Attempts to Prove Fermat’s Last Theorem. I don’t typically review textbooks but the title and then the contents of the book convinced me that I needed to interview the authors. Joe Rotman wasn’t available but I was able to chat with the other co-author, Al Cuoco. I was really struck with Al’s passion about teaching the teachers as well as the students. Al shared some great insights about the ingredients that I think should go into every math textbook to help teachers and students to develop the right habits of mind to succeed. Here are some of the questions we discussed. 1. What is your background and your experience teaching high school math to students and to teachers? 2. I attended the Ross program and you have a key role in a program that has its roots in the Ross program. Tell me about this program and your involvement with it. 3. There’s something special about number theory and algebra that makes it accessible to bright students without a deep background in math. What do you think of that thought? 4. What is “Learning Modern Algebra” about and who is the audience? 5. How does Fermat’s Last Theorem unite the book’s chapters? 6. What are the challenges with how Modern Algebra is taught? 7. Why is exploration so important and how do you promote it? 8. Rigorous thinking about open-ended problems runs through the book. PODASIP (prove or disprove and salvage if possible) problems contribute to this. Can you speak to that? 9. Why is historical setting important in learning math and how do you weave history into the book? 10. Tell us about the importance of the “Connections” sections in the book. 11. Is there a next book or project? 12. The question I ask everyone: “What advice would you give to a parent whose child was struggling with math?” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
6/20/20141 hour, 15 minutes, 9 seconds
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David Reimer, “Count Like an Egyptian: A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics” (Princeton UP, 2014)

[Re-posted with permission from Sol Lederman’s Wild About Math] I love novel ways of looking at arithmetic. I’m fascinated with how computers compute in binary, with tricks for simplifying calculations and with how Vedic mathematicians handle difficult arithmetic efficiently. So, when Princeton University Press sent me a review copy of their new book Count Like an Egyptian: A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics (Princeton University Press, 2014), I immediately fell in love with it. I was delighted to learn even more techniques and the ideas behind them to deepen my appreciation of the beauty of what most consider to be mundane arithmetic. Count Like an Egyptian is a delightful book, full of color illustrations, fun stories, lots of hands-on exercises, and an appreciation for the power of simple but deep ideas. David Reimer was a pleasure to interview. He is a brilliant mathematician who hasn’t lost sight of the power and beauty of mathematics. He taught me and modeled that, despite the stereotype, the more advanced mathematicians are the ones who are more likely to communicate ideas well. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
6/9/20141 hour, 17 minutes, 51 seconds
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Peter Gardenfors, “The Geometry of Meaning: Semantics Based on Conceptual Spaces” (MIT Press, 2014)

A conceptual space sounds like a rather nebulous thing, and basing a semantics on conceptual spaces sounds similarly nebulous. In The Geometry of Meaning: Semantics Based on Conceptual Spaces (MIT Press, 2014), Peter Gardenfors demonstrates that this need not be the case. Indeed, his research is directed towards establishing a formal, mathematically-grounded account of semantics, an account which – as expounded here – is nevertheless accessible. In this interview we discuss the essence of this proposal, focusing in particular on its implications for linguistic analysis, but also touching upon its relation to cognitive science and other related fields. The proposal makes testable predictions about the organization of individual linguistic systems, as well as their acquisition (and potentially their evolution over time). Notably, the “single domain constraint” posits that individual lexical items refer to convex regions of single domains. We discuss the significance of this idea as a bridge between linguistics and cognitive science, what would constitute its falsification, and how it can usefully be investigated from a linguistic standpoint. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
6/9/201444 minutes, 32 seconds
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Oscar E. Fernandez, “Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us (Princeton UP, 2014)

The book discussed in this interview is Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us (Princeton University Press, 2014) by Oscar E. Fernandez, who teaches mathematics – and calculus in particular – at Wellesley College.  While it can be read by someone who wants to obtain a sense of what calculus is and how it’s used, it is even more enjoyable and enlightening if the reader has taken the first semester of a calculus course.  The author takes the reader through a day in the author’s life, during which things one typically encounters – stock price quotations, cooling cups of coffee, getting good seats at a movie – afford an opportunity to investigate how calculus explains these everyday occurrences.  Fernandez also introduces some instances where calculus has totally unexpected applications to our lives – why our GPS system relies upon Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, and why we obtain electricity via alternating current rather than direct current.  Everyday Calculus should not only add to the appreciation of calculus by those who have studied the subject, the book will hopefully persuade readers unfamiliar with calculus to take a course in it. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
4/17/201453 minutes, 41 seconds
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Michael Strevens, “Tychomancy: Inferring Probability from Causal Structure” (Harvard UP, 2013)

When we’re faced with a choice between Door #1, Door #2, and Door #3, how do we infer correctly that there’s an equal chance of the prize being behind any of the doors? How is it that we are generally correct to choose the shorter of two checkout lines in the supermarket when we’re in a hurry? In his new book, Tychomancy: Inferring Probability from Causal Structure (Harvard University Press, 2013), Michael Strevens – professor of philosophy at New York University, argues that we are all equipped with a reliable, probable innate, and not fully conscious skill at probabilistic reasoning—a “physical intuition” that enables us to infer physical probabilities from perceived symmetries. This skill is found in six-month-old infants watching as red and white balls are removed in different proportions from an urn. But it also underlies important advances in the sciences, such as James Clerk Maxwell’s reasoning when he hit upon the correct distribution of velocities of a moving particle in a gas. In this intriguing essay on a very special type of cognitive capacity, Strevens’ defends controversial claims about the rules guiding our reasoning about physical probability, its probable innateness, and its role in science as well as in everyday judgment. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
4/15/20141 hour, 1 minute
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Tim Chartier, “Math Bytes: Google Bombs, Chocolate-Covered Pi, and Other Cool Bits in Computing” (Princeton UP, 2014)

[Re-posted with permission from Wild About Math] My favorite kind of math challenges are those that children can understand and professional mathematicians can’t solve easily (or at all.) Math Bytes: Google Bombs, Chocolate-Covered Pi, and Other Cool Bits in Computing (Princeton University Press, 2014) is a brand new book from Princeton University Press that has a great collection of fun problems that kids (middle school and above) and their parents can work on together. Author Tim Chartier does a fantastic job of weaving some wonderful stories into his sharing of a number of challenges that are either original or new spins on old problems. And, many (all?) of the puzzles in the book are classroom tested. Tim is a mathematician and a professional mime. He’s got a neat relationship with the Mathematical Association of America, and with the Museum of Mathematics in New York City. He’s got a DVD course coming out, and a second book. Tim is quite the math celebrity and a really great guy. I think you’ll all enjoy the many topics we manage to touch on in just over an hour. Oh, and if you didn’t win a billion dollars in Warren Buffett’s March Madness challenge then you might want to listen to the podcast and read the book. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
4/8/20141 hour, 13 minutes, 13 seconds
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Chuck Adler, “Wizards, Aliens, and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction” (Princeton UP, 2014)

[Re-posted with permission from Wild About Math] I’ve admitted before that Physics and I have never gotten along. But, science fiction is something I enjoy. So, when Princeton University Press sent me a copy of Physics Professor Chuck Adler‘s new book Wizards, Aliens, and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction (Princeton University Press, 2014), I was intrigued enough that I wanted to interview the author. This interview rambled, but in a good way. Chuck is a great guest, he’s passionate about physics and math as well as fantasy and science fiction. We flowed through a number of subjects and had a grand time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
2/14/20141 hour, 35 minutes, 54 seconds
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Eli Maor and Eugen Jost, “Beautiful Geometry” (Princeton UP, 2014)

Beautiful Geometry (Princeton UP, 2014), by the mathematician prof. Eli Maor and the noted artist Eugen Jost.  It’s a fascinating collaboration which helps to bridge the gap deplored by C. P. Snow in his classic The Two Cultures.  If you’re a lover of geometry, you’ll find some of your favorites depicted here – as well as a number of theorems that will undoubtedly be new to many readers (including the interviewer).  Each result is accompanied by an original work of art by Eugen Jost.  It’s fascinating not only to read about some of the more piquant results in a field (geometry) that is more than 2,500 years old, but just as delightful to see how these results inspire the creativity of an artist.  If you come for the geometry, you’ll certainly stay for the artwork – and if your interest is in art, you’ll be intrigued by how a presumably dry subject such as geometrical theorems can give birth to works of exquisite beauty. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
2/11/201451 minutes, 33 seconds
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Edward Frenkel, “Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality” (Basic Books, 2013)

The book discussed in this interview is Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality Basic Books, 2013) by Edward Frenkel of the University of California at Berkeley.It’s a toss-up which is more interesting – the description of Frenkel’s life or his description of his interest in – and love for – mathematics and physics. Before he was twenty years old, Frenkel had written a paper that a visiting Swedish physicist thought so intriguing that he smuggled it out of Russia.That paper started Frenkel on a career which resulted in his collaborating with some of the world’s foremost mathematicians and physicists – and to his writing Love and Math. It’s a fascinating read. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
11/8/201357 minutes, 10 seconds
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Colm Mulcahy, “Mathematical Card Magic: Fifty-Two New Effects” (A K Peters, 2013)

[Re-posted with permission from Wild About Math] I had the pleasure of interviewing mathematician and mathematical card magic innovator Colm Mulcahy. Dr. Mulcahy just published a book, Mathematical Card Magic: Fifty-Two New Effects (A K Peters, 2013) We spent a delightful hour discussing his book, his love of math and magic, and the inspiration behind writing the book. Plus, Dr. Mulcahy shares a few challenges listeners might enjoy chewing on, sprinkled throughout the interview. And, we discuss Martin Gardner, who Colm Mulcahy knew for the last decade of his life and met with several times. You may also enjoy Shecky’s text interview with Colm Mulcahy at Math Tango.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
9/26/20131 hour, 16 minutes, 16 seconds
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Brian Clegg, “Dice World: Science and Life in a Random Universe” (Icon Books, 2013)

The book discussed in this interview is Dice World: Science and Life in a Random Universe (Icon Books, 2013), by Brian Clegg, an acclaimed British writer of books on science for the general public. Brian has a knack for taking concepts that seem abstruse and explaining them in ways that those who lack a technical background can readily understand. This talent is on display inDice World, where he takes the reader on an intriguing trip through the world of probability and statistics, and shows how these disciplines are essential to our understanding of how the Universe came into existence, how it functions, and how it will evolve. Brian Clegg can be contacted at [email protected]. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
6/4/201353 minutes, 12 seconds
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Leonard Wapner, “Unexpected Expectations: The Curiosities of a Mathematical Crystal Ball” (A.K. Peters, 2012)

Today I talked to Leonard Wapner about his new book Unexpected Expectations: The Curiosities of a Mathematical Crystal Ball (A.K. Peters, 2012).  Prof. Wapner’s previous book, The Pea and the Sun, was an in-depth investigation of the Banach-Tarski Theorem, one of the most counterintuitive results in mathematics.  Expectation is an extension of the idea of average value, and is a basic tool of probability theory that underlies both the gaming and insurance industries.  Unexpected Expectations is a fascinating look at some of the counterintuitive aspects of this apparently simple concept. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
5/6/201357 minutes, 1 second
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Lance Fortnow, “The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible” (Princeton UP, 2013))

Today we’ll be discussing Lance Fortnow‘s bookThe Golden Ticket:P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible (Princeton University Press, 2013).The book focuses on the challenges associated with solving problems requiring significant computation, such as “What is the largest group of Facebook users, all of whom know each other?”If it is shown that all computational problems can be solved relatively easily (this is known as showing that P=NP), then such problems as finding a cure for cancer and other diseases would be much more easily solved. Listen in and find out how. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
4/2/201354 minutes, 9 seconds
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Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez, “Math on Trial” (Basic Books, 2013)

You may well have seen “Numb3rs,” a TV show in which mathematicians help solve crimes. It’s fiction. But, as Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez show in their eye-opening new book Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Court Room (Basic Books, 2013) math does play a role in criminal prosecution. Alas, it’s often bad math and, as such, often leads to bad outcomes: people get off who shouldn’t and others get convicted who shouldn’t. Schneps and Colmez show how math has been misused in ten interesting (and disturbing) cases. In some instances the errors are trivial; in others rather complex. But they all add up (excuse the pun) to injustice. Listen in and find out how and why. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
3/13/20131 hour, 57 seconds
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Catherine Jami, “The Emperor’s New Mathematics: Western Learning and Imperial Authority During the Kangxi Reign (1662-1722)” (Oxford UP, 2012)

Challenging conventional modes of understanding China and the circulation of knowledge within the history of science, Catherine Jami‘s new book looks closely at the imperial science of the reign of the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1662-1722). It focuses on the history of mathematics in this context, but situates the story of mathematics and Kangxi within a larger framework that extends from the late Ming through the years after Kangxi’s reign, and treating much more than mathematics in the course of the analysis. The Emperor’s New Mathematics: Western Learning and Imperial Authority During the Kangxi Reign (1662-1722) (Oxford University Press, 2012) takes us from the beginning of Western learning in China in the late Ming dynasty through the commissioning by Kangxi of a massive compendium that was the largest mathematical work ever printed in imperial China. Along the way, Jami’s work surveys the changing pedagogy of imperial mathematics in late imperial China, the crucial role that materiality and instruments played in the mathematics of this period, the many languages of sciences at the court, and the ways that Kangxi alternately used Jesuit mathematics to undergird his authority over Chinese scholar-officials, and sidelined them in the service of championing the mathematical knowledge of Chinese scholars and Bannermen. It is a rich and powerful account that rewards a wide range of readers. Enjoy! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
10/19/20121 hour, 10 minutes, 3 seconds
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Roger Hart, “The Chinese Roots of Linear Algebra” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2011)

Roger Hart‘s The Chinese Roots of Linear Algebra (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011) is the first book-length study of linear algebra in imperial China, and is based on an astounding combination of erudition and expertise in both Chinese history and the practice and history of linear algebra. Alternating among an interdisciplinary array of materials and ideas that range from the Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Arts to modern matrix theory, Hart argues for the importance of visualization to the solution of linear algebra problems in China in the years before Leibniz. In the course of a detailed and exhaustive account of fangcheng practice, Hart explores issues of primary importance to the history of science broadly writ, including the relationship and distinction between popular and elite knowledge, the challenges of inferring and extracting historical practices from the textual record, and the challenges of translating scientific terminology across the languages and cultures of the past and present. Hart’s book is a unique and standout contribution to the history of science in what have been called “non-Western” cultures, and our conversation touched on both the specifics of his study and the broader historiographical issues that his work speaks to. Enjoy! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics
7/27/20121 hour, 8 minutes