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Julian Havil

Nonplussed

In Nonplussed! : mathematical proof of implausible ideas Julian Havil gives us a collection of mathematical ideas which seem rather counterintuitive, but which turn out to be true when you do the maths.

Some of the ideas, such as the likelihood of two people in a group sharing a birthday, can be found in plenty of other places, but Havil goes into greater detail - for instance looking at the case of 3 or more people sharing a birthday. There are chapters on how to make two losing games into one winning one, on why the 13th of the month is more likely to be a Friday than any other day, on the hypervolume of hyperspheres, and plenty of other topics. (There does seem to be one mistake. Havil demonstrates a solid with infinite surface area and finite volume, and implies that one exists with the conditions reversed - but it doesn't. This is discussed in Learn from the Masters chapter 7).

There is are plenty of calculations in this book, but they don't require more than school level mathematics. Also I found that it was possible to follow the arguments without working through the mathematics - you can always go back later to fill in the detail. It would make an ideal gift for anyone who is keen on mathematics or who enjoys being puzzled by paradoxical ideas.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 216 pages  
ISBN: 0691120560
Salesrank: 1395494
Weight:1 lbs
Published: 2007 Princeton University Press
Amazon price $8.90
Marketplace:New from $8.89:Used from $1.80
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 216 pages  
ISBN: 0691120560
Salesrank: 407175
Weight:1 lbs
Published: 2007 Princeton University Press
Marketplace:New from £15.91:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 216 pages  
ISBN: 0691120560
Salesrank: 1336505
Weight:1 lbs
Published: 2007 Princeton University Press
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 28.47:Used from CDN$ 10.89
Buy from Amazon.ca





Product Description

Math--the application of reasonable logic to reasonable assumptions--usually produces reasonable results. But sometimes math generates astonishing paradoxes--conclusions that seem completely unreasonable or just plain impossible but that are nevertheless demonstrably true. Did you know that a losing sports team can become a winning one by adding worse players than its opponents? Or that the thirteenth of the month is more likely to be a Friday than any other day? Or that cones can roll unaided uphill? In Nonplussed!--a delightfully eclectic collection of paradoxes from many different areas of math--popular-math writer Julian Havil reveals the math that shows the truth of these and many other unbelievable ideas.



Nonplussed! pays special attention to problems from probability and statistics, areas where intuition can easily be wrong. These problems include the vagaries of tennis scoring, what can be deduced from tossing a needle, and disadvantageous games that form winning combinations. Other chapters address everything from the historically important Torricelli's Trumpet to the mind-warping implications of objects that live on high dimensions. Readers learn about the colorful history and people associated with many of these problems in addition to their mathematical proofs.



Nonplussed! will appeal to anyone with a calculus background who enjoys popular math books or puzzles.