Reviews

"Math Chat" began as a live phone-in TV show in the USA, spawned a newspaper column and a website, and now it has produced a book. The whole project was the brainchild of Williams' College mathematician Frank Morgan and has both stimulated interest in maths across a broad range of the community and led to the formation of highly successful undergraduate research groups in mathematics.
"The Language of Mathematics" is a book that sets itself an ambitious task - to sum up all of mathematics. Clearly, the author does not intend to do this without omissions - mathematics is far too large a subject for that - rather, he hopes that the reader will come away with an understanding of what maths is and what mathematicians do and why.
This is one of the world's outstanding pedagogic texts. It has the rare distinction of being a mathematics book that has sold a million copies. The COMAP project is a coalition of leading mathematicians and educators, directed by Solomon Garfunkel, who over a period of twelve years and five ever-expanding editions have created a beautiful introduction to the practical applications of some of the most important areas of discrete mathematics.
John Haigh takes the above quote as the epigraph for "Taking Chances", and makes his own significant contribution to scientific literacy. He concerns himself with "games of chance" in the broadest sense, from the National Lottery, quiz shows, casino games and card, dice and coin games, through game-theoretic "games" such as military conflicts, to all types of sports.
"The pleasure and interest of being a scientist need not be confined to those gifted people who have the ability to pursue the highly specialised studies which are necessary for those who would reach the main frontiers of scientific advance." G. I. Taylor, one of the great physicists of the twentieth century, among the last masters of both theory and experiment.
Computers can do many things, but there are some things they can't do. They certainly can't play tennis or the violin, but those aren't the kinds of thing we're concerned with. There are computational questions, questions of the kind that we would naturally turn to a computer to help us with, that, in fact, they cannot answer (and nor, therefore, can we).
The author says in the introduction that "this book is intended as a polemic", and a polemic it certainly is. Whether or not you like the book will therefore depend not only on whether you agree with his thesis, but also on whether or not you like polemic.
The golden section (or golden ratio), famously, was used in antiquity, when the ancient Greeks built temples the proportions of whose parts - by accident or design - are often supposed to have fallen in the golden ratio.