Monday, September 30, 2013

Books, Links, Calculus...

I'm busily putting final touches on a long review of Martin Gardner's autobiography [now up HERE], while simultaneously reading Edward Frenkel's new "Love and Math" and Raymond Smullyan's "The Gödelian Puzzle Book" -- don't know if I'll write reviews of either, but have no hesitation recommending both. The latter is typical 'Ray Smullyan,' and perhaps his best, most focused attempt yet to elucidate Gödel's theorems via paradoxical puzzles. The Frenkel book thus far looks wonderful (deep, yet accessible) and I hope will confer (to my naive brain) some sense of what the cutting edge Langlands Program is all about.
For now, I just have time to pass along to readers a few miscellaneous links I've enjoyed the last few days:

1) Just today, the same Edward Frenkel had an interesting piece in Slate on NSA and their 'backdoor' cryptography practices:

2) Another fun read from Simon Singh (on The Simpsons' comedy writers), promoting his new book:

3) And finally, recently Steven Strogatz enthusiastically tweeted a link to this intro for Robert Ghrist's 1st-year calculus course (from Coursera):

The reason I provide this link at all is because quite awhile back an emailer asked me to recommend a video site on the Web for learning first-year calculus, and even though I'm aware of many, I wasn't confident endorsing any particular one. When I asked readers if they had definite recommendations I got no response. But if Steven Strogatz is willing to give a thumbs-up to this one, I trust his judgment!
One thing that makes it look interesting, beyond the quality of graphics put into it, is Ghrist's unconventional use of Taylor series (which usually come at the end of 1st year calculus), near the beginning of the course.

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