Get on a commuter train these days and you can virtually see people's brains crunching away at filling the numbers from 1 to 9 into a square grid. As the Sudoku craze shows no sign of slowing, Hardeep Aiden investigates its relatives and predecessors.
Edward Burger and Michael Starbird are both Professors of mathematics and have won numerous teaching and writing awards for their work. Burger has even performed stand-up comedy in night-clubs and is no stranger to appearing on television and radio broadcasts. In their company the reader is clearly in safe hands and these achievements are reflected in the quality of the book. The text is also written with a charm that is lamentably rare in maths literature.
Mario Livio's new book tells the story of the elusive quintic equation and how, from the mysteries of this unsolvable puzzle, group theory was born. This branch of mathematics describes and defines symmetry, and at the core of the book is a strong sense of just how much of our behaviour and appreciation of the world around us depends on our ability to perceive symmetrical proportions.
Teaching a machine to understand music is an incredibly difficult task, which uses all the mathematical power of digital signal processing. But teaching a machine to compose music is quite another matter, and the wonderful world of mathematical patterns proves to be a gold mine. Nick Collins talks to Plus about his artificial musician.