Books by Subject


Calculated Risks: How To Know When Numbers Deceive You
by Gerd Gigerenzer

Product Details

Editorial Reviews
In the tradition of
Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos, German scientist Gerd Gigerenzer offers his own take on numerical illiteracy. "In Western countries, most children learn to read and write, but even in adulthood, many people do not know how to think with numbers," he writes. "I focus on the most important form of innumeracy in everyday life, statistical innumeracy--that is, the inability to reason about uncertainties and risk." The author wisely uses concrete examples from the real world to make his points, and he shows the devastating impact of this problem. In one example, he describes a surgeon who advised many of his patients to accept prophylactic mastectomies in order to dodge breast cancer. In a two-year period, this doctor convinced 90 "high-risk" women without cancer to sacrifice their breasts "in a heroic exchange for the certainty of saving their lives and protecting their loved ones from suffering and loss." But Gigerenzer shows that the vast majority of these women (84 of them, to be exact) would not have developed breast cancer at all. If the doctor or his patients had a better understanding of probabilities, they might have chosen a different course. Fans of Innumeracy will enjoy Calculated Risks, as will anyone who appreciates a good puzzle over numbers. --John Miller

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Life by the Numbers
by Keith Devlin
Paperback - 224 pages Reprint edition (March 17, 1999)
John Wiley & Sons; ISBN: 0471328227 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.54 x 8.81 x 7.08

Other Editions: Hardcover
Editorial Reviews
Most of us think mathematics is about numbers and counting. That's just the basics, though, and Keith Devlin's companion book to the PBS series "Life by the Numbers" gives examples of the versatility of math as a tool for understanding just about everything. Devlin loves math--he calls it "one of the greatest creations of mankind" in a chapter entitled "It's an M World"--and he wants everyone to love it. He shows, through fascinating photos and examples, that mathematics is all around us, determining everything from the shape of a flower to how our CD players and insurance policies work. For the math-phobic, Life by the Numbers can be a reintroduction to a subject they may have mistakenly thought dry and boring. Forget about long division, we're talking about understanding virtual reality, leopard spots, and viruses. This book would be perfect to introduce a high-school student to some of the great careers available to mathematicians. The experts introduced throughout are hip and cutting-edge, putting math to work in movie special effects, sports and art. Profusely illustrated and engagingly written, Devlin's tour of modern mathematics brings the subject to life. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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The Language of Mathematics : Making the Invisible Visible
by Keith Devlin
Paperback - 352 pages (March 2000)
W H Freeman & Co; ISBN: 0716739674 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.98 x 9.25 x 6.12
Other Editions: Hardcover
Editorial Reviews
Keith Devlin is trying to be the Carl Sagan of mathematics, and he is succeeding. He writes: "Though the structures and patterns of mathematics reflect the structure of, and resonate in, the human mind every bit as much as do the structures and patterns of music, human beings have developed no mathematical equivalent of a pair of ears. Mathematics can be seen only with the eyes of the mind." All of his books are attempts to get around this problem, to "try to communicate to others some sense of what it is we experience--some sense of the simplicity, the precision, the purity, and the elegance that give the patterns of mathematics their aesthetic value."

Life by the Numbers, Devlin's companion book to the PBS series of the same name, is heavily illustrated and soothingly low on equations. But as he says, wanting mathematics without abstract notation "is rather like saying that Shakespeare would be much easier to understand if it were written in simpler language."

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What Counts : How Every Brain Is Hardwired for Math
by Brian Butterworth

Hardcover - 320 pages (August 1999)
Free Press; ISBN: 0684854171 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.23 x 9.53 x 6.44

At first glance, neuropsychologist Brian Butterworth's What Counts: How Every Brain Is Hardwired for Math might infuriate mathphobes who insist that they just can't get a handle on numbers. Could it be true that natural selection produced brains preprogrammed with multiplication tables? Read a few pages, though, and you'll see that Professor Butterworth has more than a little sympathy for the arithmetically challenged, and indeed confesses that he too has a hard time with figures. His thesis isn't that we are born doing math, but that we are born with a faculty for learning math, much like our ability to learn language. He goes on to argue that unique individual differences in this faculty combine with our educational experiences to make us either lightning calculators or klutzes who can't figure tips.

Butterworth's style is perfect for his subject, seamlessly weaving scholarly analysis with down-to-earth humor and practical examples that will satisfy the researcher and the lay reader alike. Drawing on archaeology, anthropology, linguistics, and his own neuropsychology, he makes his case like a masterful attorney while remaining careful to leave room for scientific falsification. The history of counting is engrossing and will be new to many readers, as it has been a rather arcane field until recently--but it's just one of the many new vistas opened for the readers of What Counts. --Rob Lightner
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The Number Sense : How the Mind Creates Mathematics
by Stanislas Dehaene

Hardcover - 288 pages (October 1997)
Oxford Univ Pr (Trade); ISBN: 0195110048 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.99 x 9.55 x 6.39
Other Editions: Paperback

Editorial Reviews
Stanislas Dehaene is a French neurophysiologist of mathematics. There are innumerable books on the psychology of language (as Dehaene shows, by "innumerable" the brain naturally assumes "more than three"), but The Number Sense is the only one devoted to the psychology of mathematics. As a result, it is full of interesting facts and unique insights. Did you know that Chinese may be the perfect spoken language for mathematics, while the arabic numerals are the best written system? That the abilities of lightning calculators and autistic savants probably owe as much to practice as to genius? That some people associate numbers with colors? That there are better ways to learn multiplication than memorizing a table? Dehaene's book is extremely practical as well as fascinating. He never forgets "that mathematics is an extraordinarily difficult activity" for which the human brain--not being a computer--is ill suited, and he suggests many ways to improve its teaching. The Number Sense should be required reading for anyone who has to teach mathematics--or learn it. --Mary Ellen Curtin
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Mathematics - The New Golden Age
by Keith Devlin

Hardcover - 312 pages 5000 edition (November 15, 1999)
Columbia Univ Pr; ISBN: 0231116381 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.03 x 9.24 x 6.27

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Models in Biology: Mathematics, Statistics, and Computing

By Donald E. Brown & P. Rothery (Contributor)
Paperback Price: $84.95
John Wiley & Sons, Dec, 1993
Review by:
The publisher, John Wiley & Sons
An accessible, integrated treatment of mathematical models in biology, the statistical techniques for fitting and testing them, and associated computer methods. Properties of models, and of methods of fitting and testing them, are demonstrated by computer simulation and illustrated by biological examples.
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Mathematical Sorcery : Revealing the Secrets of Numbers
by Calvin C. Clawson

Hardcover - 300 pages (May 1999)
Perseus Pr; ISBN: 0306460033 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.00 x 9.23 x 6.27

Editorial Reviews
In this captivating quest for pure knowledge, Clawson takes readers on a journey of discovery to divulge the wisdom of the ancient Greeks, Sumerians, Babylonians, and Egyptians, whose stunning revelations have deep meaning to this day. 134 illustrations.
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Innumeracy : Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences
by John Allen Paulos
Paperback - 180 pages Reprint edition (January 1990)
Vintage Books; ISBN: 0679726012 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.55 x 7.91 x 5.24

Editorial Reviews
This is the book that made "innumeracy" a household word, at least in some households. Paulos admits that "at least part of the motivation for any book is anger, and this book is no exception. I'm distressed by a society which depends so completely on mathematics and science and yet seems to indifferent to the innumeracy and scientific illiteracy of so many of its citizens."

But that is not all that drives him. The difference between our pretensions and reality is absurd and humorous, and the numerate can see this better than those who don't speak math. "I think there's something of the divine in these feelings of our absurdity, and they should be cherished, not avoided."

Paulos is not entirely successful at balancing anger and absurdity, but he tries. His diatribes against astrology, bad math education, Freud, and willful ignorance are leavened with jokes, mathematical or the sort (he claims) favored by the numerate.

It remains to be seen if Innumeracy will indeed be able, as Hofstadter hoped, to "help launch a revolution in math education that would do for innumeracy what Sabin and Salk did for polio"--but many of the improvements Paulos suggested have come to pass within 10 years. Only time will tell if the generation raised on these new principles is more resistant to innumeracy--and need only worry about being incomputable. --Mary Ellen Curtin
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Language and Human Behavior (The Jessie and John Danz Lectures)
by Derek Bickerton
Paperback Reprint edition (July 1996)
University of Washington Press; ISBN: 0295974583 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.50 x 9.25 x 6.04

Other Editions: Hardcover
Editorial Reviews
According to Derek Bickerton, language is not simply for communication, it is the syntax of human consciousness. In this intriguing look at the origins of consciousness, Bickerton offers a tantalizing alternative to the theories of sociobiologists such as E. O. Wilson and strong artificial intelligence theorists such as Daniel Dennett: Syntax, as hard-wired into the brain, is what distinguishes the consciousness of modern humans from that of animals and human ancestors. A remarkably accessible argument and sure to stir up debate for some time to come.

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Language & Species
by Derek Bickerton
Paperback Reprint edition (March 1992)
Univ of Chicago Pr (Trd); ISBN: 0226046117 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.78 x 9.00 x 5.99
Other Editions: Hardcover
Book Description
Language and Species presents the most detailed and well-documented scenario to date of the origins of language. Drawing on "living linguistic fossils" such as "ape talk," the "two-word" stage of small children, and pidgin languages, and on recent discoveries in paleoanthropology, Bickerton shows how a primitive "protolanguage" could have offered Homo erectus a novel ecological niche. He goes on to demonstrate how this protolanguage could have developed into the languages we speak today.

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Fractal Geometry of Nature
by Benoit B. Mandelbot
Hardcover - 468 pages (August 1988)
W H Freeman & Co.; ISBN: 0716711869 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.09 x 9.32 x 8.22
Editorial Reviews
Imagine an equilateral triangle. Now, imagine smaller equilateral triangles perched in the center of each side of the original triangle--you have a Star of David. Now, place still smaller equilateral triangles in the center of each of the star's 12 sides. Repeat this process infinitely and you have a Koch snowflake, a mind-bending geometric figure with an infinitely large perimeter, yet with a finite area. This is an example of the kind of mathematical puzzles that this book addresses.

The Fractal Geometry of Nature is a mathematics text. But buried in the deltas and lambdas and integrals, even a layperson can pick out and appreciate Mandelbrot's point: that somewhere in mathematics, there is an explanation for nature. It is not a coincidence that fractal math is so good at generating images of cliffs and shorelines and capillary beds.

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Syntactic Structures (Anua Linguarum Series Minor 4, Series Volume 4)
by Norm Chomsky

Paperback Reprint edition (June 1978)
Peter Lang Publishing; ISBN: 3110154129
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The Child's Understanding of Number
by Rochel Gelman, C. R. Gallistel (Photographer)

Paperback - 260 pages (December 1978)
Unknown; ISBN: 0674116372 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.83 x 9.29 x 6.05

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