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Monday, April 18, 2011

More Books... Old and New


Information... Is That All There Is?

James Gleick is hands-down one of the best science writers in America today and his latest opus/book, "The Information," looks to be another major intellectual compendium, worthy of every science reader's attention. Its subject matter is in some ways tangential to mathematics, and yet in other ways quite integral to the subject of math. I haven't read the volume myself (hope to get around to it at some point), but in the meantime here are various reviews of it from around the Web:

From John Horgan for Wall Street Journal:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703409304576166880701416672.html

David Ulin in the LA Times:

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/13/entertainment/la-ca-james-gleick-20110313

Freeman Dyson in NY Review of Books:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/mar/10/how-we-know/?pagination=false

And 2 reviews from the NY Times, from Geoffrey Nunberg and Janet Maslin:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/20/books/review/book-review-the-information-by-james-gleick.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/07/books/07book.html 



I'm waaay late on this one... "In Code" is a 2001 book by Sarah Flannery and her dad telling the interesting story of this award-winning Irish-teenage mathematician's work in cryptography. As cryptography and modular arithmetic are not major interests of mine, but are a big chunk of the book, I skipped this volume when it came out 10 years ago. Recently though had occasion to read it, and definitely recommend it to others who have bypassed it; all the moreso if you ARE interested in cryptography (it offers, by the way, one of the best, layman-friendly treatments of RSA encryption I've come across). Sarah's story-line is interesting in its own right, and the integral discussion of prime numbers is also worthwhile.

Large parts of it are available (for free) from Google books on the Web here:

http://tinyurl.com/3qtz8ka  

And in Britain, Tony Crilly has a new basic math book out (not available in States yet) -- "The Big Questions: Mathematics." A review here:

http://plus.maths.org/content/big-questions-mathematics

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