After seeing John H. Conway and Richard Guy‘s
The Book of Numbers cited in yet another interesting article/book/whatever, I finally decided that I clearly had to read it. (It seems to get cited a lot in certain circles.) I wasn’t disappointed — it’s a fun, well-written, and far-ranging tour of mathematical ideas all stemming from the concept of number. You might think such a topic would be somewhat limiting, but you would be very wrong! Along the way Conway and Guy manage to touch on such topics as number theory, geometry, algebra, pi, fractions, partitions, Babylonians, infinity, irrationals, primes, pineapples, Fibonacci numbers, Pascal’s triangle, complex numbers, quaternions, surreal numbers, harmonic numbers… to name just a few.
In order to pack so much interesting stuff into the book, the presentation is by necessity fairly concise; for this reason and because of the topics covered, the level of the book is definitely more advanced than many of the other books on my bookshelf. The authors don’t shy away from advanced topics, but the writing style is still friendly and compelling. Even if you don’t understand everything in the book (even I didn’t follow a few things the first time), you’ll undoubtedly learn some cool things, and it could be a book to grow with as you continue to learn more mathematics.
At some point I hope to create a page with more detailed descriptions of all the books on my bookshelf (which can be found in the right margin). In the meantime, if you read a book that you think I should include, or read one of the books already on the bookshelf and want to talk about it or offer your opinion or comments, of course feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me.
[Note: Amazon.com isn’t paying me to link to them or anything, it’s just a convenient way for me to link to more info about the book. If you want to buy a copy, of course feel free to buy it from anywhere you want!]