Once Upon a Number: Mathematician Bridges Stories and Statistics

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9780465051588: Once Upon a Number: Mathematician Bridges Stories and Statistics
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Book by Paulos John Allen

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Explores the ways in which statistical analysis and mathematical logic apply to everyday life

Reseña del editor:

In his well-known style, full of anecdotes and witty observations, Americas favorite mathematician takes on our two most basic ways of representing informationnarratives and numbersshowing the surprising things they have in common. . Once Upon a Number shows that stories and numbers arent as different as you might imagine. In fact, they have surprising and fascinating connections. Beside lucid accounts of cutting-edge information theory we get hilarious anecdotes and jokes; instructions for running a truly impressive pyramid scam; a freewheeling conversation between Groucho Marx and Bertrand Russell; explanations of why the mundane facts of the O. J. Simpson case are overwhelmingly incriminating; how the Unabombers thinking shows signs of mathematical training; why were much more likely to feel aggrieved than aggrieving; and dozens of other treats. America's most engaging mathematician has done it again. What two things could be more different than numbers and stories? Numbers are abstract, certain, and eternal, but to most of us somewhat dry and bloodless. Good stories are full of life: they engage our emotions and have subtlety and nuance, but they lack rigor and the truths they tell are elusive and subject to debate. As ways of understanding the world around us, numbers and stories seem almost completely incompatible. Once Upon a Number shows that stories and numbers arent as different as you might imagine, and in fact they have surprising and fascinating connections. The concepts of logic and probability both grew out of intuitive ideas about how certain situations would play out. Now, logicians are inventing ways to deal with real world situations by mathematical meansby acknowledging, for instance, that items that are mathematically interchangeable may not be interchangeable in a story. And complexity theory looks at both number strings and narrative strings in remarkably similar terms. Throughout, renowned author John Paulos mixes numbers and narratives in his own delightful style. Along with lucid accounts of cutting-edge information theory we get hilarious anecdotes and jokes; instructions for running a truly impressive pyramid scam; a freewheeling conversation between Groucho Marx and Bertrand Russell (while theyre stuck in an elevator together); explanations of why the statistical evidence against OJ Simpson was overwhelming beyond doubt and how the Unabombers thinking shows signs of mathematical training; and dozens of other treats. This is another winner from Americas favorite mathematician.

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John Allen Paulos
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John Allen Paulos
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