A Numerate Life A Mathematician Explores the Vagaries of Life, His Own and Probably Yours

Ebook Description

Best-selling mathematician John Allen Paulos describes this autobiography as “a meta-memoir, even an anti-memoir.” Employing ideas from mathematics, he raises questions that most of us don't think to ask, but arguably should, about all memoirs or even when thinking about our own lives: How do we really know that? What part of memory is reliable fact versus creative embellishment? By conjoining two opposing mindsets—the suspension of disbelief required in story telling with the show-me tentativeness inherent to mathematics—Paulos has created an interesting hybrid, a composite of memories and techniques for testing their validity. Along with entertaining tales ranging from a bullying math teacher and a fabulous collection of baseball cards to romantic crushes, meeting his wife Sheila, and the joys of grandchildren, the reader receives a painless introduction to some very useful math. If you're wondering how to apply some logic to the helter-skelter of your own life, Paulos will show you a few tricks of his trade: how simple arithmetic can put life-long habits into perspective; how higher dimensional geometry can help us see that we're all strange; how nonlinear dynamics can explain why small genetic differences can result in two very different siblings; how logarithms and exponentials shed light on why we tend to become bored and jaded as we age; and much, much more. For fans of Paulos's previous books or newcomers to his work, this witty, debunking, and educational commentary on his life—and yours—is indispensable reading.


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