Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Math hysteria

Listening to:

Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet suite.

Just read:

Ian Stewart, Math Hysteria: Fun and Games with Mathematics.

This is an entertaining collection of columns that Stewart wrote for Scientific American magazine. They are “recreational mathematics”, which means they simultaneously aim to convey some mathematical idea and to keep the reader interested. I’m happy to report that Stewart succeeds in all of these columns. My particular favourites were the two on analysing Monopoly using probabilistic methods, two on agent-reasoning (“because he knows that I know that X, I should do Y”), and on how to play the children’s game “dots-and-boxes” well. (The latter is highly non-trivial!)