Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou;
art by Alecos Papadatos ; color by Annie Di Donna
(Bloomsbury, 2009, 347 pages)
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Mathematics (online 4 ed.) had this to say about Bertrand Russell (1872–1970):
British philosopher, logician and writer on many subjects. He is remembered in mathematics as the author, with A. N. Whitehead, of Principia mathematica, published between 1910 and 1913 in three volumes, which set out to show that pure mathematics could all be derived from certain fundamental logical axioms. Although the attempt was not completely successful, the work was highly influential. He was also responsible for the discovery of Russell’s paradox.
This graphic novel is about the life of Bertrand Russell and his contributions to many fields. The book also offers a glimpse into the lives of other great mathematicians and logicians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries such as Boole, Frege, Whitehead, Hilbert, Wittgenstein, Turing, and Von Neumann. If you are a librarian, you should know Boole (Boolean operator) and Turing (father of computer science and artificial intelligence) 🙂
Not having studied philosophy in college, I had a hard time comprehending the comments on Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Still, the interesting content and beautiful drawings made the book fun and stimulating. I enjoyed the brief coverage on the two World Wars as well. Russell was imprisoned and fined because of his anti-war activities. I’m interested in finding out more about that. If you are interested in history of mathematics and logic, this is the book for you.
The Manga Guide to Statistics by Shin Takahashi
(No Starch Press, 2009, 215 pages)
I needed a break from the book I was reading. This Manga guide fit the bill. It’s a Japanese comic book translated into English. A high school girl named Rui is taking tutoring lessons on statistics from her father’s young co-worker Mamamoto. The book has a good story line that keeps the subject interesting and enjoyable. It starts off with the basics of understanding different types of data and moves on to applications of hypothesis testing. Along the way Pearson’s chi-squared test, Cramér’s V, and other tests and procedures are also discussed and explained. The talented author uses everyday examples to shed light on statistics from noodle shop pricing to teens’ fashion preferences. It’s an excellent introductory book for high school or first year college students. If you have a good grasp on the subject already, it could be a fun way to review it. A light and fun read.
Cows in the Maze by Ian Stewart
(Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2010, 306 pages)
Ian Stewart is one of my favorite science writers. He teaches mathematics at the University of Warwick, England. This book is a collection of author’s articles from Mathematical Explorations column of Scientific American. There are 21 chapters filled with fascinating stories and intriguing puzzles. Most chapters stand alone; you can pick and choose which puzzle or problem fancies you the most. At the end of each chapter, Stewart lists books and articles for further readings and web sites for more information. I found lots of wonderful web sites that are educational and fun. Several chapters also investigate time travel and the shape of a teardrop. Did you know that the shapes of teardrops are not tear-drop shaped at all? Start on these chapters if you are into physics as well. If you love a probability challenge, begin with Chapter 12.
This is a “hands-on” book. High school math? Good enough! You’ll want to have pencils and scrape papers ready to try out the probabilities of totals of two dice. With a thin card, a glue stick and a pair of scissors, you can make a sphericon. Find a friend and a piece of soft, smooth string (3 feet long), you are on your way to meet the Cat’s Cradle Calculus Challenge. I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of math and/or physics. Look up The magical maze and How to cut a cake by Stewart, too. You won’t be disappointed. Wait, I just heard cows moo in the maze;-).