This anthology brings together the year's finest writing on mathematics from around the world. Featuring promising new voices alongside some of the foremost names in mathematics, "The Best Writing on Mathematics" makes available to a wide audience many articles not easily found anywhere else--and you don't need to be a mathematician to enjoy them. These writings offer surprising insights into the nature, meaning, and practice of mathematics today. They delve into the history, philosophy, teaching, and everyday occurrences of math, and take readers behind the scenes of today's hottest mathematical debates. Here readers will discover why Freeman Dyson thinks some mathematicians are birds while others are frogs; why Keith Devlin believes there's more to mathematics than proof; what Nick Paumgarten has to say about the timing patterns of New York City's traffic lights (and why jaywalking is the most mathematically efficient way to cross Sixty-sixth Street); what Samuel Arbesman can tell us about the epidemiology of the undead in zombie flicks; and much, much more.
In addition to presenting the year's most memorable writing on mathematics, this must-have anthology also includes a foreword by esteemed mathematician William Thurston and an informative introduction by Mircea Pitici. This book belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in where math has taken us--and where it's headed.
"Pitici ... has put together a mathematics anthology gleaned from articles published in 2009 in a range of popular and scholarly sources. The collection is quite international in scope... This collection is more than just a set of reprints; the assembly from diverse and, in some cases, not easily accessible publications and the arrangement add value to this work."--Library Journal "Imagine for a moment that you had a friend who was a voracious reader of Math journals and periodicals. And, imagine that this friend had a knack for finding articles that were of interest to mathematicians and non-mathematicians alike by well-known writers and by new talent. Would you be interested in reading a few dozen of these articles? Mircea Pitici, editor of The Best Writing on Mathematics 2010 is such a friend, even if you've never met him... A nice set of stimulating articles that appeal to a wide audience."--Sol Lederman, Wild About Math! "As a mathematician engrossed in my own area ... I've been delighted to have this book in my house. One inevitably will not agree with every choice of work for inclusion, but it would be a dull book if it simply presented us with what we like. What is important is that it is varied and balanced, and contains the odd surprise."--Charles Eaton, LMS Newsletter "Mircea Pitici has succeeded in putting together a wonderful and varied bouquet of texts related to mathematics... I highly recommend this book to everyone with an interest in mathematics, whether they are professional mathematician, graduate or undergraduate students, teachers, or enthusiastic amateurs."--Stephen Buckley, Irish Math Society Bulletin "I would highly recommend this book as a good read to anyone with an interest in mathematics. Whether a professional mathematician, university or sixth form student, teacher, or recreational mathematician, there will be something there for you."--Steve Humble, Mathematics Today "I recommend this book to Gazette readers as enjoyable bedside reading."--Phill Schultz, Australian Math Society Gazette
Foreword by William P. Thurston xi Introduction by Mircea Pitici xv Mathematics Alive The Role of the Untrue in Mathematics by Chandler Davis 3 Desperately Seeking Mathematical Proof by Melvyn B. Nathanson 13 An Enduring Error by Branko Grunbaum 18 What Is Experimental Mathematics? By Keith Devlin 32 What Is Information-Based Complexity? By Henryk Woz'niakowski 37 What Is Financial Mathematics? By Tim Johnson 43 If Mathematics Is a Language, How Do You Swear in It? By David Wagner 47 Mathematicians and the Practice of Mathematics Birds and Frogs by Freeman Dyson 57 Mathematics Is Not a Game But ... by Robert Thomas 79 Massively Collaborative Mathematics by Timothy Gowers and Michael Nielsen 89 Bridging the Two Cultures: Paul Valery by Philip J. Davis 94 A Hidden Praise of Mathematics by Alicia Dickenstein 99 Mathematics and Its Applications Mathematics and the Internet: A Source of Enormous Confusion and Great Potential by Walter Willinger, David L. Alderson, and John C. Doyle 109 The Higher Arithmetic: How to Count to a Zillion without Falling Off the End of the Number Line by Brian Hayes 134 Knowing When to Stop: How to Gamble If You Must--The Mathematics of Optimal Stopping by Theodore P. Hill 145 Homology: An Idea Whose Time Has Come by Barry A. Cipra 158 Mathematics Education Adolescent Learning and Secondary Mathematics by Anne Watson 163 Accommodations of Learning Disabilities in Mathematics Courses by Kathleen Ambruso Acker, Mary W. Gray, and Behzad Jalali 175 Audience,Style and Criticism by David Pimm and Nathalie Sinclair 194 Aesthetics as a Liberating Force in Mathematics Education? By Nathalie Sinclair 206 Mathematics Textbooks and Their Potential Role in Supporting Misconceptions by Ann Kajander and Miroslav Lovric 236 Exploring Curvature with Paper Models by Howard T. Iseri 247 Intuitive vs Analytical Thinking: Four Perspectives by Uri Leron and Orit Hazzan 260 History and Philosophy of Mathematics Why Did Lagrange "Prove" the Parallel Postulate? By Judith V. Grabiner 283 Kronecker's Algorithmic Mathematics by Harold M. Edwards 303 Indiscrete Variations on Gian-Carlo Rota's Themes by Carlo Cellucci 311 Circle Packing: A Personal Reminiscence by Philip L. Bowers 330 Applying Inconsistent Mathematics by Mark Colyvan 346 Why Do We Believe Theorems? By Andrzej Pelc 358 Mathematics in the Media Mathematicians Solve 45-Year-Old Kervaire Invariant Puzzle by Erica Klarreich 373 Darwin: The Reluctant Mathematician by Julie Rehmeyer 377 Loves Me, Loves Me Not (Do the Math) by Steven Strogatz 380 The Mysterious Equilibrium of Zombies and Other Things Mathematicians See at the Movies by Samuel Arbesman 383 Strength in Numbers: On Mathematics and Musical Rhythm by Vijay Iyer 387 Math-hattan by Nick Paumgarten 391 Contributors 395 Acknowledgments 403 Credits 405