The New York Times Book of Mathematics: More Than 100 Years of Writing by the Numbers

The New York Times Book of Mathematics: More Than 100 Years of Writing by the Numbers

by Gina Kolata, Paul Hoffman

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From the archives of the world's most famous newspaper comes a collection of its very best writing on mathematics. Big and informative, The New York Times Book of Mathematics gathers more than 110 articles written from 1892 to 2010 that cover statistics, coincidences, chaos theory, famous problems, cryptography, computers, and many other topics. Edited by Pulitzer Prize finalist and senior Times writer Gina Kolata, and featuring renowned contributors such as James Gleick, William L. Laurence, Malcolm W. Browne, George Johnson, and John Markoff, it's a must-have for any math and science enthusiast!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402793288
Publisher: Sterling
Publication date: 06/04/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 851,141
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Gina Kolata is a senior writer at the New York Times, where she reports on science and medicine; a bestselling author; a frequent lecturer; and a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist. She has written several books, including Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss—and the Myths and Realities of Dieting (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), which was a finalist for the Quill book awards, and the national bestseller Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).  Paul Hoffman is the host of the PBS television series Great Minds of Science and the president and CEO of Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey, as well as the author of several books including King's Gambit: A Son, a Father, and the World's Most Dangerous Game (Hyperion) and the international bestseller The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdös and the Search for Mathematical Truth (Hyperion). He was the editor in chief of Discover for 10 years as well as president and publisher of Encyclopedia Britannica, and is a puzzlemaster (under the pseudonym Dr. Crypton) and a class-A level chess player.

Table of Contents

Foreword Paul Hoffman x

Introduction Gina Kolata xiii

Chapter 1 What Is Mathematics?

Useful Invention or Absolute Truth: What Is Math? George Johnson 3

But Aren't Truth and Beauty Supposed to be Enough? James Gleick 9

Mathematicians Meet Computerized Ideas Gina Kolata 13

Mathematicians Finally Log On James Gleick 16

With Major Math Proof, Brute Computers Show Flash of Reasoning Power Gina Kolata 19

Computers Still Can't Do Beautiful Mathematics Gina Kolata 24

100 Quadrillion Calculations Later, Eureka! Gina Kolata 27

Theorist Applies Computer Power to Uncertainty in Statistics Gina Kolata 29

Chapter 2 Statistics, Coincidences and Surprising Facts

1-in-a-Trillion Coincidence, You Say? Not Really, Experts Find Gina Kolata 35

Sometimes Heavier Objects Go to the Top: Here's Why James Gleick 40

Behind Monty Hall's Doors: Puzzle, Debate and Answer? John Tierney 43

What If They Closed 42d Street and Nobody Noticed? Gina Kolata 48

Down for the Count; Why Some Numbers Are Only Very Good Guesses Gina Kolata 51

Could It Be? Weather Has Nothing to Do with Your Arthritis Pain? Gina Kolata 54

Electronics to Aid Weather Figuring Sidney Shalett 58

Insurance as a Study; Something of the Men Who Figure Business by Algebra 62

Leontief's Contribution Leonard Silk 64

Many Small Events May Add Up to One Mass Extinction Malcolm W. Browne 67

Metric Mania John Allen Paulos 70

In Shuffling Cards, 7 Is a Winning Number Gina Kolata 73

Can Game Theory Predict When Iran Will Get the Bomb? Clive Thompson 77

In Modeling Risk, the Human Factor Was Left Out Steve Lohr 88

Playing the Odds George Johnson 92

Monday Puzzle: Solution to Birthday Problem Pradeep Mutalik 95

Just What Are Your Odds in Genetic Roulette? Go Figure Gina Kolata 102

The 2000 Election: The Science of Counting Gina Kolata 106

Prospectus; Can a Computer Program Figure Out the Market? A Former Analyst and a Mathematician Are Betting That Theirs Can Janet Stites 107

New Tools for the I.R.S. to Sniff Out Tax Cheats David Cay Johnston 110

Chapter 3 Famous Problems, Solved and As Yet Unsolved

New Mathematics Links Two Worlds William L. Laurence 115

An Elusive Proof and Its Elusive Prover Dennis Overbye 119

Ask Science: Poincare's Conjecture Dennis Overbye 125

Grigori Perelman's Beautiful Mind Jascha Hoffman 131

A Math Problem Solver Declines a $1 Million Prize Dennis Overbye 133

"Four-Color Problem" Attacked William L. Laurence 135

Four-Color Proof 136

Goldbach's Conjecture; This One May Be Provable, but We May Never Know George Johnson 137

Mathematics Expert May Soon Resolve A 350-Year Problem James Gleick 139

Fermat's Theorem Solved? Not This Time James Gleick 141

Fermat's Last Theorem Still Has 0 Solutions James Gleick 142

At Last, Shout of "Eureka!" in Age-Old Math Mystery Gina Kolata 145

Fermat's Theorem James Gleick 150

Flaw Is Found in Math Proof, but Repairs Are Under Way Gina Kolata 155

A Year Later Fermat's Puzzle Is Still Not Quite Q.E.D. Gina Kolata 157

How a Gap in the Fermat Proof Was Bridged Gina Kolata 158

Two Key Mathematics Questions Answered after Quarter Century John A. Osmundsen 164

Mathematical Theory of Poker Is Applied to Business Problems Will Lissner 169

Soap Bubbles Get a New Role in Old Mathematics Problem Joseph Williams 173

Math Advance Penetrates Secrets of Knots James Gleick 175

Packing Tetrahedrons, and Closing in on a Perfect Fit Kenneth Chang 181

Finding Order in the Apparent Chaos of Currents Bina Venkataraman 184

In Bubbles and Metal, the Art of Shape-Shifting Kenneth Chang 188

The Scientific Promise of Perfect Symmetry Kenneth Chang 190

143-Year-Old Problem Still Has Mathematicians Guessing Bruce Schechter 192

What Is the Most Important Problem in Math Today? Gina Kolata 196

Solution to Old Puzzle: How Short a Shortcut? Gina Kolata 198

Chapter 4 Chaos, Catastrophe and Randomness

Chaos Is Defined by New Calculus 202

Experts Debate the Prediction of Disasters Malcolm W. Browne 204

Solving the Mathematical Riddle of Chaos James Gleick 208

The Man Who Reshaped Geometry James Gleick 223

Snowflake's Riddle Yields to Probing of Science James Gleick 235

Tales of Chaos: Tumbling Moons and Unstable Asteroids James Gleick 239

Fluid Math Made Simple-Sort Of James Gleick 243

When Chaos Rules the Market James Gleick 246

New Appreciation of the Complexity in a Flock of Birds James Gleick 256

Indestructible Wave May Hold Key to Superconductors James Gleick 261

The Quest for True Randomness Finally Appears Successful James Gleick 265

Coin-Tossing Computers Found to Show Subtle Bias Malcolm W. Browne 270

Science Squints at a Future Fogged by Chaotic Uncertainty Malcolm W. Browne 274

Probing Disease Clusters: Easier to Spot Than Prove Gina Kolata 278

The Odds of That Lisa Belkin 281

Fractal Vision James Gleick 298

Chapter 5 Cryptography and the Emergence of Truly Unbreakable Codes

Harassment Alleged over Code Research Malcolm W. Browne 303

Researchers to Permit Pre-Publication Review by U.S. Richard Severo 306

Tighter Security Rules for Advances in Cryptology Walter Sullivan 308

A New Approach to Protecting Secrets Is Discovered James Gleick 312

Brief U.S. Suppression of Proof Stirs Anger 316

A Most Ferocious Math Problem Tamed Malcolm W. Browne 319

Biggest Division a Giant Leap in Math Gina Kolata 324

Scientists Devise Math Tool to Break a Protective Code John Markoff 328

Tied Up in Knots, Cryptographers Test Their Limits Gina Kolata 331

A Public Battle over Secret Codes John Markoff 334

U.S. Code Agency Is Jostling for Civilian Turf John Markoff 338

Researchers Demonstrate Computer Code Can Be Broken Sara Robinson 343

Nick Patterson; A Cold War Cryptologist Takes a Crack at Deciphering DNA's Deep Secrets Ingfei Chen 345

Adding Math to List of Security Threats John Markoff 349

Prizes Aside, the P-NP Puzzler Has Consequences John Markoff 351

Chapter 6 Computers Enter the World of Mathematics

"Thinking Machine" Does Higher Mathematics; Solves Equations That Take Humans Months 355

New Giant "Brain" Does Wizard Work 356

"Brain" Speeded Up for War Problems Will Lissner 358

The Electronic Digital Computer: How It Started, How It Works and What It Does Henry L. Lieberman Dr. Louis Robinson 360

New Shortcut Found for Long Math Proofs Gina Kolata 381

New Technique Stores Images More Efficiently Gina Kolata 385

Giant Computer Virtually Conquers Space and Time George Johnson 390

Rear Adm. Grace M. Hopper Dies; Innovator in Computers Was 85 John Markoff 395

Frances E. Holberton, 84, Early Computer Programmer Steve Lohr 398

Squeezing Data like an Accordion Peter Wayner 400

A Digital Brain Makes Connections Anne Eisenberg 403

A Soviet Discovery Rocks World of Mathematics Malcolm W. Browne 406

The Health Care Debate: Finding What Works Gina Kolata 410

Step 1: Post Elusive Proof. Step 2: Watch Fireworks John Markoff 415

Chapter 7 Mathematicians and Their World

Paul Erdos, 83, a Wayfarer in Math's Vanguard, Is Dead Gina Kolata 420

Journeys to the Distant Fields of Prime Kenneth Chang 423

Highest Honor in Mathematics Is Refused Kenneth Chang 428

Scientist at Work: John H- Conway; At Home in the Elusive World of Mathematics Gina Kolata 430

Claude Shannon, B. 1916-Bit Player James Gleick 436

An Isolated Genius Is Given His Due James Gleick 438

Scientist at Work: Andrew Wiles; Math Whiz Who Battled 350-Year-Old Problem Gina Kolata 444

Scientist at Work: Leonard Adleman; Hitting the High Spots of Computer Theory Gina Kolata 449

Dr. Kurt Gödel, 71, Mathematician Peter B. Flint 456

Genius or Gibberish? The Strange World of the Math Crank George Johnson 458

Contributors' Biographies 463

Photography and Illustration Credits 467

Ackowledgments 468

Index 469

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The New York Times Book of Mathematics: More Than 100 Years of Writing by the Numbers 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed it thoroughly. I thought there could have been more illustrations to help explain some of the articles.