Monday, September 19, 2016

Review of "Arithmetic For the Practical Man," Second Edition, by J. E. Thompson

Review of

Arithmetic For the Practical Man, Second Edition, by J. E. Thompson, D. Van Nostrand Company, Princeton, New Jersey, 1946. 280 pp., (hardbound).

Four out of five stars

 In the foreword, the author states that this book is designed to be used for self-study or as a refresher. To me, it is clear that it is far better used as the latter. Books for self-study need to have detailed explanations with many worked examples, something not found in abundance in this book. For example, the chapter that introduces logarithms, from the introduction of exponents in calculations to the exercises at the end, only covers ten pages. The use of logarithms in performing multiplication and division consumes another ten pages before the topic is switched to ratio and proportion.
The coverage is thorough in breadth in terms of what is considered computational mathematics. Approximating calculations, once so important when things had to be done quickly, is the topic of an entire chapter. In addition to the basics of arithmetic, there are chapters on measurements, temperature and angle measure, latitude and longitude, the properties of plane figures, graphs, and the properties of basic three-dimensional objects.
 This is a book that gives the reader a look back to the days before calculators, when computing required a fundamental understanding of the properties of the operations and not just knowing the sequence of buttons to press.

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