Saturday, February 13, 2016

Review of "Expeditions in Mathematics," edited by Tatiana Shubin, David F. Hayes and Gerald L. Alexanderson

Review of

Expeditions in Mathematics, edited by Tatiana Shubin, David F. Hayes and Gerald L. Alexanderson, The Mathematical Association of America, Washington, D. C., 2011. 400 pp., (hardbound). ISBN 9780883855713.

 Alternating on the campuses of San Jose State University and Santa Clara University in the center of the area of California known as Silicon Valley, there was a series of bi-monthly mathematical lectures called the Bay Area Mathematical Adventures (BAMA). The lectures are designed for the general audience, although there is no sparing of the mathematics. People at all levels of mathematical knowledge attend and are engaged rather than passive. The lecturers are generally nationally and internationally known mathematicians, describing their work. This book is a collection of their presentations.
 The breadth of the coverage is best described by citing the categories that appear in the table of contents. They are:

*) General, covering basic mathematical paradoxes, Sudoku, cardinal numbers and tricks with cards.
*) Number theory
*) Geometry & topology
*) Combinatorics & topology
*) Applied mathematics of observing the sun and moon from different locations on the Earth, zero knowledge proofs and the value of combination drug therapies. 

 The papers are all fascinating to read, even those not within your general areas of mathematical interest. My favorite single point was an example of Simpson’s Paradox where an improperly interpreted data set can indicate gender bias when no such bias exists. This is popular mathematics at the absolute best, understandable with no lack of mathematical rigor. 

This book was made available for free for review purposes

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