Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Review-The Math Book

For the past several weeks, I have read The Math Book by Clifford A. Pickover. Overall, I like the idea of this book. It is a book of the 250 most important mathematical innovations. Each page gives you a new and exciting discovery in math. This all happens in the order they were discovered.

I feel as though the discoveries at the beginning of the book were way more interesting than the later ones. This is probably because the discoveries at the beginning lead towards the discoveries that happened later in history.

The invention that I felt was the most interesting was the simple game of Tic Tac Toe. This game is traced back to 1300 BC.  It is considered the "atom" of board games because many other games are based off of Tic Tac Toe. Interestingly, there are 362,880 ways to place X's and O's. Of these possibilities, there are 255,168 possible games that can be played that end in 5,6,7,8, and 9 moves.

Along with Tic Tac Toe, I found the pages that were on items such as the Mobius Strip and the Klein Bottle were interesting. They are objects that are in at least three dimensions but they are only one sided objects.

This book shows us many interesting discoveries in math and tells us everything they can in a one page summary.

One of the major flaws with this book is that the author deviates from the math quite often. He tells us a lot about the mathematicians as well. The flaw comes in the way he does this. He touches on the families of the mathematicians but only seems to do it for the female mathematicians. He also points out the religions of the mathematicians if they are not a white Christians. This happened mostly when they were Jewish. I feel as though it is demoralizing being a female mathematician that he would say this stuff. It is more important to talk about their contributions than to tell us how many children the females have or of what religion they are.

Overall, I do believe that this book has a good idea about it. I just feel that it would be better if it stuck more to the math than the other stories that aren't of any importance.


  1. "that aren't of any importance"! that sounds like a mathematician.

    Good personal reaction essay.

  2. Learning about when Tic Tac Toe came into play seems like it would be fun to read about. I didn't understand what you meant when you said "Of these possibilities, there are 255,168 possible games that can be played that end in 5,6,7,8, and 9 moves."
    The book sounds like a good book. I'm curious how I would feel about how Pickover writes about non-christian white male mathematicians. It seemed like in class that Kenton and Erin did not share the same outrage you had. I'm interested on where i would fall on the scale from apathy to anti-pickover

  3. This book sounds really interesting. In fact, I chose it for my second book. I like that each page is something new to look forward to. So, if part is confusing, it is inly a page that might not be understood rather than an entire chapter, or worse, the rest of the book. I'll have to keep my eyes open to the demoralizing of female mathematicians that you saw.