Twitter: @NewBooksMath

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143 episodes

2012 to present

Average episode: 60 minutes

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Categories: Interview-Style • Math

*Podcaster's summary*: Interviews with Mathematicians about their New Books | Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics

List Updated: 2023-Dec-02 13:28 UTC. Episodes: 143. Feedback: @TrueSciPhi.

Episodes |

2023-Sep-12 • 34 minutesA Better Way to Buy BooksA Conversation with Andy Hunter, Founder and CEO, Bookshop.org |

2023-Aug-28 • 73 minutesBarbara Sattler, "The Concept of Motion in Ancient Greek Thought: Foundations in Logic, Method, and Mathematics" (Cambridge UP, 2020)Barbara M. Sattler's book The Concept of Motion in Ancient Greek Thought: Foundations in Logic, Method, and Mathematics (Cambridge UP, 2020) examines the birth of the scientific understanding of motion. It investigates which logical tools and methodological principles had to be in place to give a consistent account of motion, and which mathematical notions were introduced to gain control over conceptual problems of motion. It shows how the idea of motion raised two fundamental problems in the 5th and 4th ce... |

2023-Aug-25 • 92 minutesLawrence Goldman, "Victorians and Numbers: Statistics and Society in Nineteenth Century Britain" (Oxford UP, 2022)A defining feature of nineteenth-century Britain was its fascination with statistics. The processes that made Victorian society, including the growth of population, the development of industry and commerce, and the increasing competence of the state, generated profuse numerical data. Victorians and Numbers: Statistics and Society in Nineteenth Century Britain (Oxford UP, 2022) is a study of how such data influenced every aspect of Victorian culture and thought, from the methods of natural science and the s... |

2023-Aug-17 • 56 minutesMilo Beckman, "Math Without Numbers" (Dutton, 2020)One of the questions I am often asked is exactly what do mathematicians do. The short answer is that they look at different mathematical structures, try to deduce their properties, and think about how they might apply to the real world. Math Without Numbers (Dutton, 2020) does a wonderful job of explaining what mathematical structures are, and does so in a fashion that even readers who are uncomfortable with the process of doing mathematics can appreciate and enjoy. There are courses in music and art apprec... |

2023-Jul-31 • 17 minutesThe Outer Limits of Reason: What Science, Mathematics, and Logic Cannot Tell UsMany books explain what is known about the universe. This book investigates what cannot be known. Rather than exploring the amazing facts that science, mathematics, and reason have revealed to us, this work studies what science, mathematics, and reason tell us cannot be revealed. In The Outer Limits of Reason, Noson Yanofsky considers what cannot be predicted, described, or known, and what will never be understood. He discusses the limitations of computers, physics, logic, and our own thought processes. Yan... |

2023-Jun-07 • 37 minutesAthene Donald, "Not Just for the Boys: Why We Need More Women in Science" (Oxford UP, 2023)Why are girls discouraged from doing science? Why do so many promising women leave science in early and mid-career? Why do women not prosper in the scientific workforce? Not Just for the Boys: Why We Need More Women in Science (Oxford UP, 2023) looks back at how society has historically excluded women from the scientific sphere and discourse, what progress has been made, and how more is still needed. Athene Donald, herself a distinguished physicist, explores societal expectations during both childhood and w... |

2023-Apr-19 • 54 minutesJustin L. Bergner, "Solving the Price Is Right: How Mathematics Can Improve Your Decisions On and Off the Set of America's Celebrated Game Show" (Prometheus Books, 2023)The Price is Right is television's longest-running game show. Since its inception in 1956, contestants have won cars, tropical vacations, diamond jewelry, even a live horse, and the hosts' excited catchphrase "come on down!" has become part of our everyday vernacular. Part of the program's enduring appeal is the apparent ease of the game, guessing the cash value of certain prizes. But, if that's the case, then why do so many contestants come away from the show empty-handed? Solving The Price is Right (Prome... |

2023-Apr-16 • 57 minutesShelly M. Jones, "Women Who Count: Honoring African American Women Mathematicians" (American Mathematical Society, 2019)African-Americans and women are increasingly visible in professional mathematical institutions, organizations, and literature, expanding our mental models of the mathematics community. Yet early representation also matters: We begin building these models as soon as we begin seeing and doing mathematics, and they can be slow to adapt. In her wonderful activity book Women Who Count: Honoring African American Women Mathematicians (MAA Press, 2019), Dr. Shelly Jones invites children, and their parents and educa... |

2023-Apr-15 • 21 minutesAlice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire and A Prime Number ConspiracyOn this episode of the MIT Press podcast, Thomas Lin, Editor-in-Chief of Quanta Magazine, discusses the research and current climate behind the science and math in Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire: The Biggest Ideas in Science from Quanta and The Prime Number Conspiracy: The Biggest Ideas in Math from Quanta. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/mathematics... |

2023-Jan-14 • 24 minutesJeffrey Carpenter and Andrea Robbett, "Game Theory and Behavior" (MIT Press, 2022)Jeffrey Carpenter and Andrea Robbett's book Game Theory and Behavior (MIT Press, 2022) is an introduction to game theory that offers not only theoretical tools but also the intuition and behavioral insights to apply these tools to real-world situations. This introductory text on game theory provides students with both the theoretical tools to analyze situations through the logic of game theory and the intuition and behavioral insights to apply these tools to real-world situations. It is unique among game th... |

2022-Dec-19 • 87 minutesJames D. Stein, "Seduced by Mathematics: The Enduring Fascination of Mathematics" (World Scientific, 2022) MathSeduction is not just an end result, but a process -- and in mathematics, both the end results and the process by which those end results are achieved are often charming and elegant.This helps to explain why so many people -- not just those for whom math plays a key role in their day-to-day lives -- have found mathematics so seductive. Math is unique among all subjects in that it contains end results of amazing insight and power, and lines of reasoning that are clever, charming, and elegant. James D. Stein'... |

2022-Dec-18 • 59 minutesJohn Allen Paulos, "Who's Counting?: Uniting Numbers and Narratives with Stories from Pop Culture, Puzzles, Politics, and More" (Prometheus, 2022)Innumeracy, by John Allen Paulos, was first published in 1988. In it the author brilliantly highlighted many of the sorry truths those of us who teach math and science know – not only can’t most people do algebra or geometry, they can’t estimate size, they don’t understand simple probability and statistics, and they believe in things that make no sense. In Who’s Counting? (Prometheus, 2022), Paulos investigates topics which – like Innumeracy – connect with the age in which we live. Who's Counting? features ... |

2022-Nov-23 • 55 minutesAlfred S. Posamentier, "The Secret Lives of Numbers: Numerals and Their Peculiarities in Mathematics and Beyond" (Prometheus Books, 2022)Alfred S. Posamentier's The Secret Lives of Numbers: Numerals and Their Peculiarities in Mathematics and Beyond (Prometheus Books, 2022) is the first book I’ve ever seen written by a mathematician that will absolutely, definitely, certainly appeal to people who love numbers and who don’t love mathematics. I would urge all listeners to tell everyone they know who has a fascination with numbers to listen to this podcast, especially if they don’t love mathematics because they will definitely love this book. Ho... |

2022-Nov-22 • 18 minutesProbabilityIn this episode of High Theory, Justin Joque talks with Júlia Irion Martins about Probability. This conversation is part of our High Theory in STEM series, which tackles topics in science, technology, engineering, and medicine from a highly theoretical perspective. If you want to learn more about the philosophical, technical, and economic implications of probability, check out Justin’s new book, Revolutionary Mathematics: Artificial Intelligence, Statistics, and the Logic of Capitalism (Verso, 2022). Justin... |

2022-Nov-11 • 55 minutesAlexandr Draganov, "Mathematical Tools for Real-World Applications: A Gentle Introduction for Students and Practitioners" (MIT Press, 2022)I’ve never read a book like Mathematical Tools for Real-World Applications: A Gentle Introduction for Students and Practitioners (MIT Press, 2022) – it’s a book about how engineers and scientists see math, and I found it fascinating. What intrigued me about this book was not that it just presents and solves a bunch of interesting problems, it shows how scientists and engineers differ in their approach to problem solving from mathematicians. Shame on me, but as a mathematician, I’ve always been a little unco... |

2022-Nov-09 • 45 minutesAndrew Fiss, "Performing Math: A History of Communication and Anxiety in the American Mathematics Classroom" (Rutgers UP, 2020)Performing Math: A History of Communication and Anxiety in the American Mathematics Classroom (Rutgers University Press, 2020) by Dr. Andrew Fiss tells the history of expectations for math communication—and the conversations about math hatred and math anxiety that occurred in response. Focusing on nineteenth-century American colleges, this book analyzes foundational tools and techniques of math communication: the textbooks that supported reading aloud, the burnings that mimicked pedagogical speech, the blac... |

2022-Nov-02 • 70 minutesDavid Kaiser, "Well, Doc, You're In: Freeman Dyson’s Journey through the Universe" (MIT Press, 2022)Freeman Dyson (1923–2020)—renowned scientist, visionary, and iconoclast—helped invent modern physics. Not bound by disciplinary divisions, he went on to explore foundational topics in mathematics, astrophysics, and the origin of life. General readers were introduced to Dyson’s roving mind and heterodox approach in his 1979 book Disturbing the Universe, a poignant autobiographical reflection on life and science. "Well, Doc, You're In": Freeman Dyson’s Journey through the Universe (MIT Press, 2022) (the titl... |

2022-Oct-31 • 58 minutesJohn Stillwell, "The Story of Proof: Logic and the History of Mathematics" (Princeton UP, 2022)The Story of Proof: Logic and the History of Mathematics (Princeton UP, 2022) investigates the evolution of the concept of proof--one of the most significant and defining features of mathematical thought--through critical episodes in its history. From the Pythagorean theorem to modern times, and across all major mathematical disciplines, John Stillwell demonstrates that proof is a mathematically vital concept, inspiring innovation and playing a critical role in generating knowledge. Stillwell begins with Eu... |

2022-Sep-23 • 58 minutesAlberto Cairo, "How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter about Visual Information" (Norton, 2019)We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, but what if we don’t understand what we’re looking at? Social media has made charts, infographics, and diagrams ubiquitous―and easier to share than ever. We associate charts with science and reason; the flashy visuals are both appealing and persuasive. Pie charts, maps, bar and line graphs, and scatter plots (to name a few) can better inform us, revealing patterns and trends hidden behind the numbers we encounter in our lives. In short, good charts m... |

2022-Sep-12 • 70 minutesKaren Hunger Parshall, "The New Era in American Mathematics, 1920–1950" (Princeton UP, 2022)In The New Era in American Mathematics, 1920-1950 (Princeton University Press, 2022) Karen Parshall explores the institutional, financial, social, and political forces that shaped and supported the American Mathematics community in the first half of the twentieth century. Drawing from extensive archival and primary-source research, Professor Parshall uncovers the key players in American mathematics who worked together to effect change. She highlights the educational, professional, philanthropic, and govern... |

2022-Aug-23 • 71 minutesPeter Winkler, "Mathematical Puzzles" (A K Peters, 2020)Peter Winkler has been collecting mathematical puzzles since childhood. He has had published two previous collections, and recently he compiled his largest curated collection to date. Mathematical Puzzles (A K Peters, 2021) also takes an alluring new approach to the genre: In the Roman-numbered front matter, 300+ puzzles are presented, roughly in order of increasing difficulty. Fuller discussions of the puzzles are then organized into 24 chapters according to the key insight that leads to their solutions. E... |

2022-Aug-23 • 67 minutesBrian Cafarella, "Community College Mathematics: Past, Present, and Future" (CRC Press, 2022)In Community College Mathematics: Past, Present, and Future (CRC Press, 2022), Brian Cafarella addresses the key questions: How can we build a future model for community college gatekeeper math classes that is both successful and sustainable? Additionally, how can we learn from the past and the present to build such a model? From the 1970’s to the pandemic in the early 2020’s, the book uses interviews with 30 community college faculty members from seven community colleges to explore math curricula as well a... |

2022-Aug-15 • 48 minutesJoseph Mileti, "Modern Mathematical Logic" (Cambridge UP, 2022)Today I had the pleasure of talking to Joe Mileti, associate professor of mathematics at Grinnell College. Even if you are not "into" math, you will enjoy this conversation. We talked about how math is not what you think it is. It's not just memorizing formulas and grinding. It's about thinking and, like all thinking, it involves abstraction, logic, using analogies and metaphors, and a bunch of imagination. We also talked about how math is about talking to other mathematicians and doing a kind of "brainstor... |

2022-Aug-09 • 63 minutesRonald Meester and Klaas Slooten, "Probability and Forensic Evidence: Theory, Philosophy, and Applications" (Cambridge UP, 2021)In Probability and Forensic Evidence: Theory, Philosophy, and Applications (Cambridge UP, 2021), Ronald Meester and Klaas Slooten address the role of statistics and probability in the evaluation of forensic evidence, including both theoretical issues and applications in legal contexts. It discusses what evidence is and how it can be quantified, how it should be understood, and how it is applied (and, sometimes misapplied). Ronald Meester is Professor in probability theory at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam... |

2022-Jul-08 • 19 minutesAndrew Witt, "Formulations: Architecture, Mathematics, Culture" (MIT Press, 2022)In Formulations: Architecture, Mathematics, Culture (MIT Press, 2022), Andrew Witt examines the visual, methodological, and cultural intersections between architecture and mathematics. The linkages Witt explores involve not the mystic transcendence of numbers invoked throughout architectural history, but rather architecture’s encounters with a range of calculational systems—techniques that architects inventively retooled for design. Witt offers a catalog of mid-twentieth-century practices of mathematical dr... |

2022-Jun-30 • 51 minutesScott Gehlbach, "Formal Models of Domestic Politics" (Cambridge UP, 2021)Formal mathematical models have provided tremendous insights into politics in recent decades. Formal Models of Domestic Politics (Cambridge UP, 2021) is the leading graduate textbook covering the crucial models that underpin current theoretical and empirical research on politics by both economists and political scientists. This textbook was recently updated to reflect the wealth of new theory-building around the functioning of authoritarian regimes, as well as to include recent developments in the theory of... |

2022-Jun-22 • 60 minutesSeth Stephens-Davidowitz, "Don't Trust Your Gut: Using Data to Get What You Really Want in LIfe" (Dey Street Books, 2022)Today I talked to Seth Stephens-Davidowitz about his new book Don't Trust Your Gut: Using Data to Get What You Really Want in LIfe (Dey Street Books, 2022) Looking for advice on how to get a date, how to have a successful marriage, or just how to have a happier life? Don’t trust your gut, don’t trust conventional wisdom, and put down that self-help book full of plausible arguments and compelling anecdotes that just happens to contradict the advice you got from the self-help book you. Instead, let Seth Steph... |

2022-Jun-21 • 62 minutesRobert-Jan Smits and Rachael Pells, "Plan S for Shock: Science. Shock. Solution. Speed." (Ubiquity Press, 2022)Plan S: the open access initiative that changed the face of global research. Robert-Jan Smits and Rachael Pells's book Plan S for Shock: Science. Shock. Solution. Speed. (Ubiquity Press, 2022) tells the story of open access publishing - why it matters now, and for the future. In a world where information has never been so accessible, and answers are available at the touch of a fingertip, we are hungrier for the facts than ever before - something the Covid-19 crisis has brought to light. And yet, paywalls p... |

2022-Jun-09 • 66 minutesNikita Braguinski, "Mathematical Music: From Antiquity to Music AI" (Focal Press, 2022)What is mathematical music? In Mathematical Music from Antiquity to AI (Routledge, 2022), musicologist Nikita Braguinski discusses how mathematics has historically been used to make music, how it continues to influence musical composition, and the ways in which it may influence music in the future, including through artificial intelligence (AI). From pre-historic sounds to Gregorian chant to jazz to rock and beyond, from Mozart to M.C. Hammer, from the definition of an interval to time signatures to what gi... |

2022-May-10 • 51 minutesMindy Capaldi, "Teaching Mathematics Through Games" (American Mathematical Society, 2021)Games are an established aide in pre-college mathematics education. Meanwhile, innumerable popular books have investigated the mathematics of games. In a new edited volume for the AMS/MAA Classroom Resource Materials Series, topologist and NSF educational program director Mindy Capaldi and contributors join advanced topics with innovative lesson designs in possibly the first book of game-based mathematics education for college curricula. Teaching Mathematics Through Games (MAA Press, 2020) comprises lesson ... |

2022-Apr-13 • 61 minutesDashun Wang and Albert-László Barabási, "The Science of Science" (Cambridge UP, 2021)Listen to this interview of Dashun Wang, Professor at the Kellogg School of Management and McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University, and also with Albert-László Barabási, Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science and Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University. We talk about their new book The Science of Science" (Cambridge UP, 2021) and science, squared. Albert-László Barabási : "There is, of course, the need that you grow professionally. If you're a mathematician, ... |

2022-Mar-31 • 67 minutesHilary Glasman-Deal, "Science Research Writing For Native and Non-Native Speakers of English" (World Scientific Publishing Europe, 2020)Listen to this interview of Hilary Glasman-Deal, teacher of STEMM communication at the Centre for Academic English, Imperial College London, and author ofScience Research Writing For Native and Non-Native Speakers of English (World Scientific Publishing Europe, 2020). We talk about researching, reading, and writing. Hilary Glasman-Deal : "One of the things I'm very often saying, particularly with early-career researchers, is this: 'Look, your reading is clearly effective, because you understand your field, ... |

2022-Mar-30 • 49 minutesThomas Haigh and Paul E. Ceruzzi, "A New History of Modern Computing" (MIT Press, 2021)In A New History of Modern Computing (MIT Press, 2021), Thomas Haigh and Paul Ceruzzi trace changes leading to the computer becoming a ubiquitous technology. Over the past fifty years, the computer has been transformed from a hulking scientific super tool and data processing workhorse, remote from the experiences of ordinary people to a diverse family of devices that billions rely on to play games, shop, stream music, and movies, communicate, and count their steps. A comprehensive reimagining of Ceruzzi's A... |

2022-Mar-28 • 56 minutesScott Timcke, "Algorithms and the End of Politics: How Technology Shapes 21st-Century American Life" (Bristol UP, 2021)As the US contends with issues of populism and de-democratization, this timely study considers the impacts of digital technologies on the country’s politics and society. In Algorithms and the End of Politics: How Technology Shapes 21st-Century American Life (Bristol University Press, 2021), Dr. Scott Timcke provides a Marxist analysis of the rise of digital media, social networks and technology giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. He looks at the impact of these new platforms and technologies ... |

2022-Mar-23 • 69 minutesN. J. Enfield, "Language Vs. Reality: Why Language Is Good for Lawyers and Bad for Scientists" (MIT Press, 2022)Nick Enfield’s book, Language vs. Reality: Why Language is Good for Lawyers and Bad for Scientists (MIT Press, 2022), argues that language is primarily for social coordination, not precisely transferring thoughts from one person to another. Drawing on empirical research, Enfield shows that human lexicons the world over are far more coarse-grained than our perceptual faculties. Yet, at the same time, languages vary in the structure and sophistication of their representations. This means that, for instance, h... |

2022-Mar-21 • 77 minutesStephen B. Heard, "The Scientist’s Guide to Writing: How to Write More Easily and Effectively Throughout Your Scientific Career, 2nd ed." (Princeton UP, 2022)Listen to this interview of Stephen Heard, Professor of Biology at the University of New Brunswick. We talk about his book The Scientist’s Guide to Writing: How to Write More Easily and Effectively Throughout Your Scientific Career, 2nd ed. (Princeton UP, 2022), we talk about writing when it's a verb, we talk about writing when it's a choice, and we talk about writing when it's the science. Stephen Heard : "Especially for early-career scientists there's a risk of their writing entering into a positive feedb... |

2022-Mar-21 • 57 minutesKate Crawford, "The Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence" (Yale UP, 2021)What happens when artificial intelligence saturates political life and depletes the planet? How is AI shaping our understanding of ourselves and our societies? In The Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence (Yale University Press, 2021), Kate Crawford reveals how this planetary network is fuelling a shift toward undemocratic governance and increased racial, gender, and economic inequality. Drawing on more than a decade of research, award‑winning science, and technolo... |

2022-Mar-16 • 51 minutesFlorian Jaton, "The Constitution of Algorithms: Ground-Truthing, Programming, Formulating" (MIT Press, 2021)The Constitution of Algorithms: Ground-Truthing, Programming, Formulating (MIT Press, 2021) is a laboratory study that investigates how algorithms come into existence. Algorithms--often associated with the terms big data, machine learning, or artificial intelligence--underlie the technologies we use every day, and disputes over the consequences, actual or potential, of new algorithms arise regularly. In this book, Florian Jaton offers a new way to study computerized methods, providing an account of where al... |

2022-Mar-04 • 55 minutesSarah Brayne, "Predict and Surveil: Data, Discretion, and the Future of Policing" (Oxford UP, 2020)Police use of advanced data collection and analysis technologies—or, "big data policing"—continues to receive both positive and negative attention through media, activism, and politics. While some high-profile cases illustrate its potential to hasten investigations or even solve previously unsolved crimes, and others showcase risks to individual liberties and vulnerable communities, we know surprisingly little about how and why police departments actually adopt and deploy these tools. Sarah Brayne's new boo... |

2022-Feb-16 • 66 minutesTony Veale, "Your Wit Is My Command: Building AIs with a Sense of Humor" (MIT Press, 2021)For fans of computers and comedy alike, an accessible and entertaining look into how we can use artificial intelligence to make smart machines funny. Most robots and smart devices are not known for their joke-telling abilities. And yet, as computer scientist Tony Veale explains in Your Wit Is My Command (MIT Press, 2021), machines are not inherently unfunny; they are just programmed that way. By examining the mechanisms of humor and jokes—how jokes actually works—Veale shows that computers can be built wit... |

2022-Feb-10 • 69 minutesAubrey Clayton, "Bernoulli's Fallacy: Statistical Illogic and the Crisis of Modern Science" (Columbia UP, 2021)There is a logical flaw in the statistical methods used across experimental science. This fault is not a minor academic quibble: it underlies a reproducibility crisis now threatening entire disciplines. In an increasingly statistics-reliant society, this same deeply rooted error shapes decisions in medicine, law, and public policy with profound consequences. The foundation of the problem is a misunderstanding of probability and its role in making inferences from observations. Aubrey Clayton traces the histo... |

2022-Feb-01 • 68 minutesBrian Cafarella, "Breaking Barriers: Student Success in Community College Mathematics" (A K Peters, 2021)Students' success in mathematics at community colleges has been the subject of thorough quantitative research, which has reported poor overall results and described a range of explanations for them. Even as policies, course formats, and the composition of the student population have changed, success rates have remained dishearteningly low. The challenges confronted by community college students in developmental and higher-level math classes are historical, financial, social, and personal. Brian Cafarella's ... |

2022-Jan-20 • 48 minutesHelga Nowotny, "In AI We Trust: Power, Illusion and Control of Predictive Algorithms" (Polity, 2021)Today I talked to Helga Nowotny about her new book In AI We Trust: Power, Illusion and Control of Predictive Algorithms (Polity, 2021). One of the most persistent concerns about the future is whether it will be dominated by the predictive algorithms of AI - and, if so, what this will mean for our behaviour, for our institutions and for what it means to be human. AI changes our experience of time and the future and challenges our identities, yet we are blinded by its efficiency and fail to understand how it ... |

2022-Jan-17 • 64 minutesThomas Huckle and Tobias Neckel, "Bits and Bugs: A Scientific and Historical Review of Software Failures in Computational Science" (SIAM, 2019)A true understanding of the pervasive role of software in the world demands an awareness of the volume and variety of real-world software failures and their consequences. No more thorough survey of these events may be available than Thomas Huckle and Tobias Neckel's Bits and Bugs: A Scientific and Historical Review of Software Failures in Computational Science (SIAM, 2019). Their book organizing an extensive collection of episodes into eight chapters that expand on an array of flavors of failures, increasin... |

2021-Dec-30 • 76 minutesDavid Sulzer, "Music, Math, and Mind: The Physics and Neuroscience of Music" (Columbia UP, 2021)Why does a clarinet play at lower pitches than a flute? What does it mean for sounds to be in or out of tune? How are emotions carried by music? Do other animals perceive sound like we do? How might a musician use math to come up with new ideas? This book offers a lively exploration of the mathematics, physics, and neuroscience that underlie music in a way that readers without scientific background can follow. David Sulzer, also known in the musical world as Dave Soldier, explains why the perception of musi... |

2021-Dec-07 • 68 minutesJames Wynn and G. Mitchell Reyes, "Arguing with Numbers: The Intersections of Rhetoric and Mathematics" (Pennsylvania State UP, 2021)One pervasive stereotype about mathematics is that it is objective, unbiased, or otherwise exempt from the influence of human passions. James Wynn and G. Mitchell Reyes's edited collection will be a revelation even to mathematics professionals who don't take this strict view. The essays in Arguing with Numbers: The Intersections of Rhetoric and Mathematics (The Pennsylvania State UP, 2021) explore the interplays between rhetoric and mathematics that have shaped scholarly and popular culture through to the p... |

2021-Nov-12 • 86 minutesIan Stewart, “The Joy of Mathematics” (Open Agenda, 2021)The Joy of Mathematics is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Ian Stewart, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick and bestselling science and science fiction writer. For Ian Stewart, mathematics is far more than dreary arithmetic, while mathematical thinking is one of the most important—and overlooked—aspects of contemporary society. This wide-ranging conversation explores what mathematics is and why it’s worth doing, symmetry, networks and patterns, th... |

2021-Nov-05 • 55 minutesVicky Neale, "Why Study Mathematics?" (London Publishing Partnership, 2020)Students and their families face a consequential choice in whether to pursue a degree, and in what area. For those considering mathematics programs, the choice may be particularly fraught: A gulf separates the exploratory and experimental mathematics done by professionals from the computational training of most secondary schools, and this can obscure the meanings of program options. Meanwhile, cultural anxieties and stereotypes can dissuade students who would flourish in mathematical careers. This despite m... |

2021-Sep-28 • 51 minutesBrian Clegg, "Ten Patterns That Explain the Universe" (MIT Press, 2021)Our universe might appear chaotic, but deep down it's simply a myriad of rules working independently to create patterns of action, force, and consequence. In Ten Patterns That Explain the Universe (MIT Press, 2021), Brian Clegg explores the phenomena that make up the very fabric of our world by examining ten essential sequenced systems. From diagrams that show the deep relationships between space and time to the quantum behaviors that rule the way that matter and light interact, Clegg shows how these patter... |

2021-Sep-27 • 84 minutesChris Bleakley, "Poems That Solve Puzzles: The History and Science of Algorithms" (Oxford UP, 2020)As algorithms become ever more significant to and embedded in our everyday lives, ever more accessible introductions to them are needed. While several excellent technical and critical treatments have emerged in recent years, i had not come across a book for the general public that would provide a deep sense for the intuitions and motivations behind their development. Chris Bleakley's new book offers this and more: conceptual rigor woven into historical vignettes in a style that i believe general readers wil... |

2021-Aug-30 • 54 minutesAlfred S. Posamentier, "Math Tricks: The Surprising Wonders of Shapes and Numbers" (Prometheus Books, 2021)Alfred S. Posamentier's Math Tricks: The Surprising Wonders of Shapes and Numbers (Prometheus Books, 2021) has a lovely assortment of puzzles from all areas of mathematics. Some will be familiar to many readers, but there are plenty of ones I’d never seen before – and I’ve seen lots of them. Some are at just the right level to intrigue students who may be put off by the dry way a lot of math courses are taught – and this alone is enough to make any parent consider having the book available when their child ... |

2021-Aug-26 • 62 minutesRachel Steinig and Rodi Steinig, "Math Renaissance: Growing Math Circles, Changing Classrooms, and Creating Sustainable Math Education" (Natural Math, 2018)Math Renaissance: Growing Math Circles, Changing Classrooms, and Creating Sustainable Math Education (Natural Math, 2018) couples two educational memoirs: Student Rachel Steinig brings her experience from diverse schooling models, surveys of teachers and fellow students, and selections of peer-reviewed scholarship to an examination of math instruction in the United States. Her chapters seek to locate root causes, transcend conventional advice, and inspire readers to imagine radical alternatives. Teacher Rod... |

2021-Aug-10 • 69 minutesSatyan Devadoss and Matt Harvey, "Mage Merlin's Unsolved Mathematical Mysteries" (MIT Press, 2020)Sixteen of today's greatest unsolved mathematical puzzles in a story-driven, illustrated volume that invites readers to peek over the edge of the unknown. Most people think of mathematics as a set of useful tools designed to answer analytical questions, beginning with simple arithmetic and ending with advanced calculus. But, as Mage Merlin's Unsolved Mathematical Mysteries (MIT Press, 2020) shows, mathematics is filled with intriguing mysteries that take us to the edge of the unknown. This richly illustrate... |

2021-Aug-09 • 176 minutesArtur Ekert, “Cryptoreality” (Open Agenda, 2021)Cryptoreality is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Artur Ekert, Professor of Quantum Physics at the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford and Director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies and Lee Kong Chian Centennial Professor at the National University of Singapore. Artur Ekert is one of the pioneers of quantum cryptography. This wide-ranging conversation provides detailed insights into his research and covers many fascinating topics such as mathematical and... |

2021-Aug-06 • 106 minutesFreeman Dyson, “Pushing the Boundaries” (Open Agenda, 2021)Pushing the Boundaries is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and former mathematical physicist and writer Freeman Dyson, who was one of the most celebrated polymaths of our age. Freeman Dyson had his academic home for more than 60 years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He has reshaped thinking in fields from math to astrophysics to medicine, while pondering nuclear-propelled spaceships designed to transport human colonists to distant planets. Howard Burton is the... |

2021-Jul-30 • 74 minutesJames Ladyman and K. Wiesner, "What Is a Complex System?" (Yale UP, 2020)While i find it pretty easy to recognize when i'm reading articles in complexity science, i've never been satisfied by definitions of complexity and related concepts. I'm not alone! Researchers' own attempts to define complex systems incorporate a mix of folk wisdom and fraught assumptions anchored to a menagerie of contested examples. The field was ripe for a 2013 article proposing a unified account of complexity, and it's no less ripe today for this book-length expansion. In What Is a Complex System? (Yal... |

2021-Jul-22 • 89 minutesJames Robert Brown, “Plato’s Heaven: A User’s Guide” (Open Agenda, 2021)Plato’s Heaven: A User’s Guide is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and James Robert Brown, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. This wide-ranging conversation addresses a central theme in current philosophy: Platonism vs. Naturalism and provides accounts of both approaches to mathematics. The Platonist-Naturalist debate over mathematics is explored in a comprehensive fashion and also sheds light on non-mathematical aspects of a dispute that is central ... |

2021-May-31 • 69 minutesEllen Peters, "Innumeracy in the Wild: Misunderstanding and Misusing Numbers" (Oxford UP, 2020)To many mathematicians and math enthusiasts, the word "innumeracy" brings to mind popular writing like that of John Allen Paulos. But inequities in our quantitative reasoning skills have received considerable interest and attention from researchers lately, including in psychology, development, education, and public health. Innumeracy in the Wild: Misunderstanding and Misusing Numbers (Oxford University Press, 2020) is a unified treatment of these broad-ranging studies, from the ways more and less numerate p... |

2021-Apr-27 • 73 minutesDave Auckly, et al., "Inspiring Mathematics: Lessons from the Navajo Nation Math Circles" (AMS, 2019)Math circles defy simple narratives. The model was introduced a century ago, and is taking off in the present day thanks in part to its congruence with cutting-edge research in mathematics education. It is a modern approach to teaching—or facilitation—that resonates and finds mutual reinforcement with traditional practices and cultural preservation efforts. A wide range of math circle resources have become available for interested instructors, including the MSRI Math Circles Library, now in its 14th year of... |

2021-Apr-02 • 57 minutesJonas Peters and Nicolai Meinshausen, "The Raven's Hat: Fallen Pictures, Rising Sequences, and Other Mathematical Games" (MIT Press, 2021)Games have been of interest to mathematicians almost since mathematics became a subject. In fact, entire branches of mathematics have arisen simply to analyze certain games. The Raven's Hat: Fallen Pictures, Rising Sequences, and Other Mathematical Games (MIT Press, 2021) does something very different, and something that I think listeners will find intriguing – it uses games in order to explain mathematical concepts. The Raven's Hat presents a series of engaging games that seem unsolvable--but can be solved... |

2021-Apr-01 • 43 minutesEugenia Cheng, "x + y: A Mathematician's Manifesto for Rethinking Gender" (Basic Book, 2020)From its more mainstream, business-focused and business-friendly “Lean In” variants, to more radical, critical and intersectional understandings of feminism, the past decade has seen a flourishing of discussion from those proposing and critiquing different schools of thought for the way we think about gender in society. Dr. Eugenia Cheng’s addition to this conversation is x+y: A Mathematician's Manifesto for Rethinking Gender (Basic Books, 2020). She applies insights gained from her mathematical background ... |

2021-Jan-25 • 56 minutesJ. Rosenhouse, "Games for Your Mind: The History and Future of Logic Puzzles" (Princeton UP, 2020)Jason Rosenhouse's Games for Your Mind: The History and Future of Logic Puzzles (Princeton UP, 2020) is about a panoply of logic puzzles. You’ll find Mastermind and sudoku discussed early on, and then you’ll be hit with an incredible array of some of the most intriguing logic puzzles that have ever been devised. Some will be familiar to you, but some will almost certainly be brain-teasers you have never heard of. It’s absolutely amazing what a truly deep field grew from recreational pastimes – and this book... |

2021-Jan-08 • 56 minutesSnezana Lawrence, "A New Year's Present from a Mathematician" (CRC Press, 2019)It would be simple enough to say that mathematics is being done, and that those who do it are mathematicians. Yet, the history and culture of the mathematical community immediately complicate these statements. In her book A New Year's Present from a Mathematician (CRC Press, 2020), Snezana Lawrence guides a tour of European mathematical history that broadens conventional ideas of who mathematicians are and what we do. Framed as journey across the desert out from Alexandria, the book recounts a vignette from... |

2020-Dec-07 • 76 minutesJames D. Stein, "The Fate of Schrodinger's Cat: Using Math and Computers to Explore the Counterintuitive" (World Scientific, 2020)Math has a complicated relationship with the counterintuitive: Rigorous logic, calculation, and simulation can both help us wrap our minds around phenomena that defy our intuition, and thrust upon us whole new worlds of counterintuitive results. In his new book, Jim Stein introduces readers to several unexpected and sometimes astonishing examples, while demanding a minimal mathematical background. The Fate of Schrodinger's Cat: Using Math and Computers to Explore the Counterintuitive (World Scientific, 2020... |

2020-Dec-01 • 107 minutesAnna Weltman, "Supermath: The Power of Numbers for Good and Evil" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2020)Mathematics as a subject is distinctive in its symbolic abstraction and its potential for logical and computational rigor. But mathematicians tend to impute other qualities to our subject that set it apart, such as impartiality, universality, and elegance. Far from incidental, these ideas prime mathematicians and the public to see in mathematics the answers—for example, an impartial arbiter, or a meritocratic equalizer—to many urgent societal questions. Anna Weltman's new book, Supermath: The Power of Numbe... |

2020-Nov-11 • 57 minutesAlfred S. Posamentier, "The Joy of Geometry" (Prometheus, 2020)Alfred S. Posamentier's The Joy of Geometry (Prometheus, 2020) is a book for someone who has taken geometry but wants to go further. This book, as one might expect, is heavy on diagrams and it is sometimes hard to discuss some of the ideas without reference to a diagram. Also, to be fair, this is not a book intended to be read casually. To fully appreciate this book, it is necessary to sit down, preferably in a comfortable chair with a beverage of one’s choosing, and prepare to give the diagrams a close loo... |

2020-Sep-29 • 65 minutesSusan D'Agostino, "How to Free Your Inner Mathematician: Notes on Mathematics and Life" (Oxford UP, 2020)Doing mathematics can be stimulating, deep, and sometimes fantastic. It can also be frustrating, impenetrable, and at times dispiriting. In her new collection of essays, writer and mathematician Susan D'Agostino shows how math itself can be a useful guide through these experiences. How to Free Your Inner Mathematician: Notes on Mathematics and Life (Oxford University Press) draws upon the theorems, applications, and history of mathematics to inspire lessons and advice for us along our mathematical (and othe... |

2020-Sep-09 • 58 minutesAlfred Posamentier, "Mathematics Entertainment for the Millions" (World Scientific Publishing, 2020)The book being discussed is Mathematics Entertainment for the Millions (World Scientific Publishing Co.), by Alfred Posamentier. In reading this book, it occurred to me that it might equally well have been entitled Millions of Mathematical Entertainments. There may not be millions of entertainments, but there’s an incredible amount – most of it easily accessible to a middle-school or high-school student, and that’s exactly the audience that we want to show how enticing mathematics can be. Anyone who loves ... |

2020-Sep-04 • 77 minutesDavid J. Hand, "Dark Data: Why What You Don't Know Matters" (Princeton UP, 2020)There is no shortage of books on the growing impact of data collection and analysis on our societies, our cultures, and our everyday lives. David Hand's new book Dark Data: Why What You Don't Know Matters (Princeton University Press, 2020) is unique in this genre for its focus on those data that aren't collected or don't get analyzed. More than an introduction to missingness and how to account for it, this book proposes that the whole of data analysis can benefit from a "dark data" perspective—that is, care... |

2020-Aug-24 • 87 minutesDavid Bressoud, "Calculus Reordered: A History of the Big Ideas" (Princeton UP, 2019)Calculus Reordered: A History of the Big Ideas (Princeton UP, 2019) takes readers on a remarkable journey through hundreds of years to tell the story of how calculus evolved into the subject we know today. David Bressoud explains why calculus is credited to seventeenth-century figures Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz, and how its current structure is based on developments that arose in the nineteenth century. Bressoud argues that a pedagogy informed by the historical development of calculus represents a s... |

2020-Aug-13 • 58 minutesSatyan Devadoss, "Mage Merlin's Unsolved Mathematical Mysteries" (MIT Press, 2020)There are very few math books that merit the adjective ‘charming’ but Mage Merlin's Unsolved Mathematical Mysteries (MIT Press, 2020) is one of them. Satyan Devadoss and Matt Harvey have chosen a truly unique, creative and charming way to acquaint readers with some of the unsolved problems of mathematics. Some are classic, such as the Goldbach Conjecture, some are fairly well known, such as the Collatz Conjecture. Others are less well known but no less fascinating – and all are intriguing and both enjoyable... |

2020-Jul-10 • 67 minutesCailin O’Connor, "Games in the Philosophy of Biology" (Cambridge UP, 2020)The branch of mathematics called game theory – the Prisoners Dilemma is a particularly well-known example of a game – is used by philosophers, social scientists, and others to explore many types of social relations between humans and between nonhuman creatures. In Games in the Philosophy of Biology (Cambridge University Press, 2020), Cailin O’Connor introduces the basics of game theory and its particular branch, evolutionary game theory, and discusses how game theoretic models have helped explain the genesi... |

2020-Jul-08 • 121 minutesB. Fong and D. I. Spivak, "An Invitation to Applied Category Theory: Seven Sketches in Compositionality" (Cambridge UP, 2019)Category theory is well-known for abstraction—concepts and tools from diverse fields being recognized as specific cases of more foundational structures—though the field has always been driven and shaped by the needs of applications. Moreover, category theory is rarely introduced even to undergraduate math majors, despite its unifying role in theory and its flexibility in application. Postdoctoral Associate Brendan Fong and Research Scientist David I. Spivak, both at MIT, have written a marvelous and timely ... |

2020-Jun-25 • 43 minutesBen Cohen, "The Hot Hand: The Mystery and Science of Streaks" (Custom House, 2020)For decades, statisticians, social scientists, psychologists, and economists (among them Nobel Prize winners) have spent massive amounts of precious time thinking about whether streaks actually exist. After all, a substantial number of decisions that we make in our everyday lives are quietly rooted in this one question: If something happened before, will it happen again? Is there such a thing as being in the zone? Can someone have a “hot hand”? Or is it simply a case of seeing patterns in randomness? Or, if... |

2020-Jun-02 • 121 minutesBrian Greene, "Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe" (Random House, 2020)Brian Greene is a Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he is the Director of the Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, and co-founder and chair of the World Science Festival. He is well known for his TV mini-series about string theory and the nature of reality, including the Elegant Universe, which tied in with his best-selling 2000 book of the same name. In this episode, we talk about his latest popular book Until the End of Time:... |

2020-May-29 • 33 minutessarah-marie belcastro, "Discrete Mathematics with Ducks" (CRC Press, 2018)Introductory courses in discrete mathematics cover a variety of distinctive but interconnected topics, from the underpinnings of logic and set theory through overviews of combinatorics and graph theory, which lend themselves to equally diverse presentation styles. In Discrete Mathematics with Ducks (Second Edition; CRC Press, 2018), dr. sarah-marie belcastro has reimagined both course and text. The book is written in an accessible and lighthearted style yet covers the full breadth of conventional topics and... |

2020-Apr-28 • 60 minutesLeslie M. Harris, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" (U Georgia Press, 2019)Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (University of Georgia Press, 2019), edited by Leslie M. Harris, James T. Campbell, and Alfred L. Brophy, is the first edited collection of scholarly essays devoted solely to the histories and legacies of this subject on North American campuses and in their Atlantic contexts. Gathering together contributions from scholars, activists, and administrators, the volume combines two broad bodies of work: (1) historically based interdisciplinary research on the pr... |

2020-Apr-22 • 54 minutesAlex Berke, "Beautiful Symmetry: A Coloring Book about Math" (MIT Press, 2020)Alex Berke's Beautiful Symmetry (MIT Press, 2020) is both a fascinating book and a concept -- it's like no other book I’ve ever read. It's a coloring book about math, inviting us to engage with mathematical concepts visually through coloring challenges and visual puzzles. We can explore symmetry and the beauty of mathematics playfully, coloring through ideas usually reserved for advanced courses. The book is for children and adults, for math nerds and math avoiders, for educators, students, and coloring ent... |

2020-Apr-03 • 52 minutesPaul Nahin, "Hot Molecules, Cold Electrons" (Princeton UP, 2020)Hot Molecules, Cold Electrons: From the Mathematics of Heat to the Development of the Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Cable (Princeton University Press, 2020), by Paul Nahin, is a book that is meant for someone who is comfortable with calculus, but for those readers who are, it is a treat. It is a thorough study of the history and mathematics of the heat equation, which is not only important as an analysis of heat, its analysis marked the beginning of Fourier series. It came as a surprise to me that the heat equat... |

2020-Mar-30 • 54 minutesMatt Cook, "Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy" (MIT Press, 2020)Paradox is a sophisticated kind of magic trick. A magician's purpose is to create the appearance of impossibility, to pull a rabbit from an empty hat. Yet paradox doesn't require tangibles, like rabbits or hats. Paradox works in the abstract, with words and concepts and symbols, to create the illusion of contradiction. There are no contradictions in reality, but there can appear to be. In Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy (MIT Press, 2020), Matt Cook and a few c... |

2020-Mar-10 • 57 minutesAl Posamentier, "Math Makers: The Lives and Works of 50 Famous Mathematicians" (Prometheus, 2020)Today I talked to Alfred S. Posamentier, a co-author (with Christian Spreitzer) of Math Makers: The Lives and Works of 50 Famous Mathematicians (Prometheus, 2020). This charming book is more than just mathematics, because mathematicians are not just makers of mathematics. They are human beings whose life stories are often not just entertaining, but are sometimes interwoven with important historical events. Of course you get the math in this book –but I would have read this book just for the fascinating anec... |

2020-Feb-26 • 50 minutesMaureen T. Carroll and Elyn Rykken, "Geometry: The Line and the Circle" (MAA Press, 2018)From an undergraduate perspective, coming from the rigid proofs and concrete constructions of middle- or high-school courses, the broad discipline of geometry can be at once intimately familiar and menacingly exotic. For most of its history, and perhaps for many of the same reasons, geometers struggled to come to terms with the unsolved problems, unstated assumptions, and untapped generalizability contained in the "bible of mathematics", Euclid's Elements. In their recent text, Geometry: The Line and the Ci... |

2020-Feb-25 • 42 minutesPhillipa Chong, “Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times” (Princeton UP, 2020)How does the world of book reviews work? In Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times (Princeton University Press, 2020), Phillipa Chong, assistant professor in sociology at McMaster University, provides a unique sociological analysis of how critics confront the different types of uncertainty associated with their practice. The book explores how reviewers get matched to books, the ethics and etiquette of negative reviews and ‘punching up’, along with professional identities and the futur... |

2020-Jan-30 • 40 minutesK. Linder et al., "Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers" (Stylus Publishing, 2020)If you’re a grad student facing the ugly reality of finding a tenure-track job, you could easily be forgiven for thinking about a career change. However, if you’ve spent the last several years working on a PhD, or if you’re a faculty member whose career has basically consisted of higher ed, switching isn’t so easy. PhD holders are mostly trained to work as professors, and making easy connections to other careers is no mean feat. Because the people you know were generally trained to do the same sorts of thin... |

2020-Jan-29 • 46 minutesChristopher J. Phillips, "Scouting and Scoring: How We Know What We Know About Baseball" (Princeton UP, 2019)The so-called Sabermetrics revolution in baseball that began in the 1970s, popularized by the book—and later Hollywood film—Moneyball, was supposed to represent a triumph of observation over intuition. Cash-strapped clubs need not compete for hyped-up prospects when undervalued players provide better price per run scored. Q.E.D., right? In Scouting and Scoring: How We Know What We Know About Baseball (Princeton University Press, 2019), historian of science Christopher J. Phillips rejects his titular dualism... |

2020-Jan-28 • 54 minutesBrian Clegg, "Conundrum: Crack the Ultimate Cipher Challenge" (Icon Books, 2019)The book we are discussing is by Brian Clegg, a well-known author of books on math and science -- but this is not exactly a book on math or science, although these subjects play a significant role. His latest book is Conundrum: Crack the Ultimate Cipher Challenge (Icon Books, 2019), which should delight and intrigue not only those who love math and science, but those who love solving puzzles. This book is a literary escape room, with a series of puzzles to be solved, all of which contribute to a final puzzl... |

2019-Dec-13 • 63 minutesDavid Spiegelhalter, "The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data" (Basic, 2019)Today's guest is distinguished researcher and statistician, Sir David Spiegelhalter. A fellow of the Royal Society, he is currently Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge. He has dedicated his career, in his words to, “improving the way that quantitative evidence is used in society.” This includes (of particular interest to us) biostatistics and medical research. David is an ISI highly cited researcher who has also focused much of his time and energy to... |

2019-Nov-22 • 41 minutesGary Meisner, "The Golden Ratio: The Divine Beauty of Mathematics" (Race Point Press, 2018)From the pyramids of Giza, to quasicrystals, to the proportions of the human face, the golden ratio has an infinite capacity to generate shapes with exquisite properties. This book invites you to take a new look at this timeless topic, with a compilation of research and information worthy of a text book, accompanied by over 200 beautiful color illustrations that transform this into the ultimate coffee table book. In The Golden Ratio: The Divine Beauty of Mathematics (Race Point Press, 2018), Gary Meisner sh... |

2019-Nov-15 • 60 minutesJulian Havil, "Curves for the Mathematically Curious" (Princeton UP, 2019)Today I talked to Julian Havil about his latest book Curves for the Mathematically Curious: An Anthology of the Unpredictable, Historical, Beautiful, and Romantic (Princeton University Press, 2019). You don’t have to be mathematically curious to appreciate Julian’s talent for weaving mathematics and history together – but mathematical curiosity and a year or two of calculus will greatly add to your enjoyment of it. This is not your father’s – or grandfather’s – standard collection of conic sections, with pe... |

2019-Nov-14 • 57 minutesMargaret E. Schotte, "Sailing School: Navigating Science and Skill, 1550-1800" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2019)Throughout the Age of Exploration, European maritime communities bent on colonial and commercial expansion embraced the complex mechanics of celestial navigation. They developed schools, textbooks, and instruments to teach the new mathematical techniques to sailors. As these experts debated the value of theory and practice, memory and mathematics, they created hybrid models that would have a lasting impact on applied science. In Sailing School: Navigating Science and Skill, 1550-1800 (Johns Hopkins Universi... |

2019-Nov-03 • 40 minutesKathryn Conrad on University Press PublishingAs you may know, university presses publish a lot of good books. In fact, they publish thousands of them every year. They are different from most trade books in that most of them are what you might called "fundamental research." Their authors--dedicated researchers one and all--provide the scholarly stuff upon which many non-fiction trade books are based. So when you are reading, say, a popular history, you are often reading UP books at one remove. Of course, some UP books are also bestsellers, and they are... |

2019-Oct-30 • 54 minutesDavid S. Richeson, "Tales of Impossibility" (Princeton UP, 2019)David S. Richeson's book Tales of Impossibility: The 2000-Year Quest to Solve the Mathematical Problems of Antiquity (Princeton University Press, 2019) is the fascinating story of the 2000 year quest to solve four of the most perplexing problems of antiquity: squaring the circle, duplicating the cube, trisecting the angle, and constructing regular polygons. The eventual conclusion was that all four of these problems could not be solved under the conditions laid out millennia ago. But it's also an engaging t... |

2019-Oct-24 • 33 minutesJ. Neuhaus, "Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to Be Effective Teachers" (West Virginia UP, 2019)The things that make people academics -- as deep fascination with some arcane subject, often bordering on obsession, and a comfort with the solitude that developing expertise requires -- do not necessarily make us good teachers. Jessamyn Neuhaus’s Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to Be Effective Teachers (West Virginia University Press, 2019) helps us to identify and embrace that geekiness in us and then offers practical, step-by-step guidelines for how to turn it to... |

2019-Oct-17 • 74 minutesDavid Lindsay Roberts, "Republic of Numbers: Unexpected Stories of Mathematical Americans through History" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2019)The institutional history of mathematics in the United States comprises several entangled traditions—military, civil, academic, industrial—each of which merits its own treatment. David Lindsay Roberts, adjunct professor of mathematics at Prince George's Community College, takes a very different approach. His unique book, Republic of Numbers: Unexpected Stories of Mathematical Americans through History(Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019), anchors 20 biographical chapters to a decadal series of events, whos... |

2019-Sep-16 • 58 minutesAlfred S. Posamentier, "Tools to Help Your Children Learn Math" (WSPC, 2019)Our guest today is Al Posamentier, the lead author of Tools to Help Your Children Learn Math (WSPC, 2019). Helping your children with math is one of the most important things a parent can do to further their children’s educational progress, and Al has teamed with other math educators, psychologists, and counselors to write a book which many will find extremely helpful in what is often a difficult and frustrating job. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices Support our show by be... |

2019-Aug-28 • 61 minutesDavide Crippa, The Impossibility of Squaring the Circle in the 17th Century" (Birkhäuser, 2019)From 1667 to 1676, a pivotal controversy played out among several mathematical luminaries of the time, partly in the proceedings of the Royal Society but partly in private correspondence. The controversy concerned whether an infamous problem of Ancient Greek geometry, the quadrature of the central conic sections (better known as squaring the circle), could be solved using the classical tools of straightedge and compass. While its impossibility would not be rigorously proven for two more centuries, the theor... |

2019-May-02 • 56 minutesChris Bernhardt, "Quantum Computing for Everyone" (MIT Press, 2019)Today I talked with Chris Bernhardt about his book Quantum Computing for Everyone (MIT Press, 2019). This is a book that involves a lot of mathematics, but most of it is accessible to anyone who survived high school algebra. Even a math-phobic can read the book, skip the math, and then more than hold his or her own in any but the highest-level discussion of quantum computing. For those of us who love math, the underlying math is elegantly simple and beautifully presented – and the same can be said of the ... |

2019-Mar-19 • 32 minutesDiscussion of Massive Online Peer Review and Open Access PublishingIn the information age, knowledge is power. Hence, facilitating the access to knowledge to wider publics empowers citizens and makes societies more democratic. How can publishers and authors contribute to this process? This podcast addresses this issue. We interview Professor Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick, whose book, The Good Drone: How Social Movements Democratize Surveillance (forthcoming with MIT Press) is undergoing a Massive Online Peer-Review (MOPR) process, where everyone can make comments on his manuscri... |

2019-Mar-12 • 56 minutesKartik Hosanagar, "A Human’s Guide to Machine Intelligence: How Algorithms Are Shaping Our Lives" (Viking, 2019)Our guest today is Kartik Hosanagar, the author of A Human’s Guide to Machine Intelligence: How Algorithms Are Shaping Our Lives and How We Can Stay in Control(Viking, 2019). This is one of those rare books that I think everyone can read and I think everyone should read. In fact, knowledge of algorithms can in some sense be considered to be the literacy of the 21st century, and the author has written a book which can greatly held advance this type of literacy. If you want to become 21st-century literate, yo... |

2018-Nov-09 • 53 minutesAndrew C. A. Elliott, “Is That a Big Number?” (Oxford UP, 2018)Andrew C. A. Elliott‘s Is That a Big Number? (Oxford University Press, 2018) is a book that those of us who feast on numbers will absolutely adore, but will also tease the palates of those for whom numbers have previously been somewhat distasteful. This book helps us not only to realize the relative magnitudes of many of the numbers which surround us, but also helps us understand precisely how and why our understanding of the universe often comes down to the numbers which describe it. It’s just a shame th... |

2018-Oct-08 • 50 minutesAl Posamentier and Christian Speitzer, “The Mathematics of Everyday Life” (Prometheus Books, 2018)Today I talked to Al Posamentier about his books (co-authored with Christian Speitzer) The Mathematics of Everyday Life (Prometheus Books, 2018). We all are told – practically from the moment we enter school – that mathematics is important because it permeates practically all aspects of our lives. But, for the most part, we don’t really notice it except for those moments, such as when we balance a checkbook, that we know we’re doing mathematics. This book, which requires nothing more than high-school mat... |

2018-Jul-18 • 56 minutesEli Maor, “Music by the Numbers: From Pythagoras to Schoenberg” (Princeton UP, 2018)Most of us have heard of the math-music connection, but Eli Maor’s Music by the Numbers: From Pythagoras to Schoenberg (Princeton University Press, 2018) is THE book that explains what that connection is, and how both math and music connect to both physics and biology. There are wonderful anecdotes detailing the lives and creations of many of the great musicians, mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers who have contributed to creating music and our understanding of it. If you love music – and who doe... |

2017-Dec-12 • 55 minutesVicky Neale, “Closing the Gap: The Quest to Understand Prime Numbers” (Oxford UP, 2017)Today I talked to Vicky Neale about her new book Closing the Gap: The Quest to Understand Prime Numbers (Oxford University Press, 2017). The book details one of the most exciting developments to happen in the last few years in mathematics, a new approach to the Twin Primes Conjecture. The story involves mathematicians from five different centuries and probably every continent except Antarctica. Vicky does a great job of telling not only what the problem is and how work on it has proceeded, but also how math... |

2017-Oct-16 • 57 minutesAlfred Posamentier et. al., “The Joy of Mathematics: Marvels, Novelties, and Neglected Gems That Are Rarely Taught in Math Class” (Prometheus Books, 2017)The book discussed here is the The Joy of Mathematics (Prometheus Books, 2017), whose lead author, Alfred Posamentier, is our guest today. The subtitle Marvels, Novelties, and Neglected Gems That Are Rarely Taught in Math Classdescribes the book nicely. Much of the book can be read by someone with only a couple of years of high school math, and the book does a terrific job of showing the reader why those of us who love math do so. We like arithmetic, algebra, geometry, infinity, and the counterintuitively s... |

2017-Sep-19 • 55 minutesBrian Clegg, “Big Data: How the Information Revolution Is Transforming Our Lives” (Icon Books, 2017)Big Data: How the Information Revolution Is Transforming Our Lives (Icon Books, 2017), by Brian Clegg, is a relatively short book about a subject that has emerged only recently, but is rapidly becoming a significant force in the evolution of society. Most of us have heard the term “big data,” but many of us erroneously assume that its just a lot of little data. It’s considerably more than that, and Big Data, which is an easy and fun read, serves as a terrific introduction to a topic which has an ever-increa... |

2017-Jun-29 • 52 minutesBrian Clegg, “The Reality Frame: Relativity and Our Place in the Universe” (Icon Books, 2017)Brian Clegg is one of England’s most prolific and popular writers on science. His latest work, The Reality Frame: Relativity and Our Place in the Universe (Icon Books, 2017), covers Einstein’s Theories of Relativity and a whole lot more. Simply as an exposition of Einstein’s theories, the book is excellent its beautifully organized and delivered, with Clegg’s usual clarity and insight. But what makes the book transcend the usual work on this subject is that Clegg looks at relativity as a concept that can he... |

2017-Jun-11 • 54 minutesOscar Fernandez, “The Calculus of Happiness” (Princeton UP, 2017)The book discussed here is entitled The Calculus of Happiness: How a Mathematical Approach to Life Adds Up to Health, Wealth, and Love (Princeton University Press, 2017) by Oscar Fernandez. If the thought of calculus makes you nervous, don’t worry, you won’t need calculus to enjoy and appreciate this book. Its actually an intriguing way to introduce some of the precalculus topics that will later be needed in a calculus class, through the examination of some of the basic mathematical ideas that can be used t... |

2017-May-15 • 69 minutesDavid Danks, “Unifying the Mind: Cognitive Representations as Graphical Models” (MIT Press, 2014)For many cognitive scientists, psychologists, and philosophers of mind, the best current theory of cognition holds that thinking is in some sense computation “in some sense,” because that core idea can and has been elaborated in a number of different ways that are or at least seem to be incompatible in at least some respects. In Unifying the Mind: Cognitive Representations as Graphical Models (MIT Press, 2014), David Danks proposes a version of this basic theory that links the mind closely with the computat... |

2017-Feb-15 • 54 minutesRaffi Grinberg, “The Real Analysis Lifesaver: All the Tools You Need to Understand Proofs” (Princeton UP, 2017)If ever there were a course that needs a book like Raffi Grinberg’s The Real Analysis Lifesaver: All the Tools You Need to Understand Proofs (Princeton University Press, 20170, analysis is unquestionably it, and I only wish that Raffi had gotten into the wayback machine and delivered me a copy when I was taking this course more than half a century ago. I got a C+, and almost certainly would have done a lot better if I’d had this book, and so will present and future students who struggle with this course. Le... |

2017-Jan-23 • 65 minutesMatthew L. Jones, “Reckoning with Matter: Calculating Machines, Innovation, and Thinking about Thinking from Pascal to Babbage” (U. Chicago Press, 2016)Matthew L. Jones’s wonderful new book traces a history of failed efforts to make calculating machines, from Blaise Pascal’s work in the 1640s through the efforts of Charles Babbage in the nineteenth century, incorporating an account of both the work and relationships of scholars and artisans, and their reflections on the nature of invention. Innovative in its approach and its form, Reckoning with Matter: Calculating Machines, Innovation, and Thinking about Thinking from Pascal to Babbage (University of Chic... |

2017-Jan-04 • 53 minutesBrian Clegg, “Are Numbers Real? The Uncanny Relationship of Mathematics and the Physical World (St. Martin’s Press, 2016)Brian Clegg’s Are Numbers Real? The Uncanny Relationship of Mathematics and the Physical World (St. Martin’s Press, 2016) is a compact, very readable, and highly entertaining history of the development and use of mathematics to answer the important practical questions involved in advancing civilization. The question “Are Numbers Real?” is a terrific way to attack the problem so compellingly stated by the physicist Eugene Wigner what accounts for the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in describing th... |

2016-Dec-29 • 56 minutesIan Stewart, “Calculating the Cosmos: How Mathematics Unveils the Universe” (Basic Books, 2016)The book discussed here is Ian Stewart’s Calculating the Cosmos: How Mathematics Unveils the Universe (Basic Books, 2016). If you would like to read a book that in my opinion represents the nicest job of presenting astronomy and cosmology in one volume since Isaac Asimov wrote The Universe half a century ago, this is absolutely the one to get. In addition, for those of us who are lovers of math, this book does a far better job than Asimov of presenting the close relationship between mathematics, astronomy, ... |

2016-Oct-01 • 55 minutesAlfred Posamentier and Stephen Krulik, “Effective Techniques to Motivate Mathematics Instruction” (Routledge, 2016)From the title, you might guess that Alfred Posamentier and Stephen Krulik’s Effective Techniques to Motivate Mathematics Instruction (Routledge, 2016) is aimed at mathematics teachers which it is. However, the techniques and strategies discussed in the book can be effectively employed by a much larger group of people, and one who hasconsiderably more influence with students. Those people are parents, who play as large or larger a role in their children’s education than do teachers. Learn more about your ad... |

2016-Sep-11 • 56 minutesAlfred S. Posamentier and Robert Geretschlager, “The Circle: A Mathematical Exploration Beyond the Line” (Prometheus Books, 2016)Alfred S. Posamentier and Robert Geretschlager, The Circle: A Mathematical Exploration Beyond the Line (Prometheus Books, 2016) goes considerably beyond what its modest title would suggest. The circle has played a pivotal role–that’s “role” with an ‘e,’ but its ability to “roll” with an ‘l’–has helped produce our industrial civilization. Moreover, the circle appears in our art, our literature, and our culture as well. This delightful book will not only reacquaint readers with the pleasures of the geometry t... |

2016-May-23 • 55 minutesBeineke and Rosenhouse, eds., “The Mathematics of Various Entertaining Subjects: Research in Recreational Math” (Princeton UP, 2015)Jennifer Beineke and Jason Rosenhouse‘s new book The Mathematics of Various Entertaining Subjects: Research in Recreational Math (Princeton University Press, 2015) covers a multitude of topics and is in many ways as entertaining as the various subjects it describes. Even though the book can be skimmed simply to expose one to various aspects of recreational mathematics, I think it’s fair to say that some mathematical background is needed to fully appreciate it. But even if you’re only willing to skim the boo... |

2016-Mar-31 • 53 minutesAdam Kucharski, “The Perfect Bet: How Science and Math Are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling” (Basic Books, 2016)Adam Kucharski, who won the 2012 Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize, has delivered another winner in an area rife with both winners and losers. The Perfect Bet: How Science and Math Are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling (Basic Books, 2016) is a brilliant, fascinating, and sometimes slightly terrifying look at how math and science are not just conquering gambling, the algorithms that math has devised and the computerized means of implementing them are paradoxically simultaneously removing risk and creating a... |

2016-Feb-24 • 60 minutesJames D. Stein, “L.A. Math: Romance, Crime, and Mathematics in the City of Angels” (Princeton UP, 2016)Romance. Crime. Mathematics. These things do not go together. Or do they? James D. Stein thinks they do, and he admirably shows us how in his wonderful collection of stories L.A. Math: Romance, Crime, and Mathematics in the City of Angels (Princeton University Press, 2016). Jim’s a mathematician, but don’t let that put you off: he’s the author of several popular books and an excellent writer at that. In this interview we talk about writing “clean”, math-phobia, and what everyone should really know, math-wis... |

2016-Jan-05 • 59 minutesLynn Gamwell, “Mathematics and Art: A Cultural History” (Princeton UP, 2015)Today I’m talking with Lynn Gamwell about Mathematics and Art: A Cultural History (Princeton University Press, 2015). This book is a breathtaking combination of scholarship and beauty, tracing the interplay of mathematics and art throughout mankind’s history, East and West. Gamwell is a lecturer in the history of mathematics and science at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and thus she is uniquely positioned to write a book that brings together the two disparate cultures described by C.P. Snow in his 1... |

2015-Dec-07 • 54 minutesBrian Clegg, “How Many Moons Does the Earth Have? The Ultimate Science Quiz Book” (Icon Books, 2015)Brian Clegg, who is arguably the most prolific science writer since Isaac Asimov, and almost certainly the most prolific British one, has written a delightfully tantalizing book entitled How Many Moons Does the Earth Have? The Ultimate Science Quiz Book (Icon Books, 2015). It’s a delectable collection of science quiz questions – and although it includes classics such as “Why Is the Sky Blue?”, many will seriously challenge even the most knowledgeable. You may finish the quiz a lot more humble about your sci... |

2015-Nov-23 • 44 minutesDan Bouk, “How Our Days Became Numbered: Risk and the Rise of the Statistical Individual” (U of Chicago Press, 2015)Who made life risky? In his dynamic new book, How Our Days Became Numbered: Risk and the Rise of the Statistical Individual (University of Chicago Press, 2015), historian Dan Bouk argues that starting in the late nineteenth century, the life-insurance industry embedded risk-making within American society and American psyches. Bouk is assistant professor of history at Colgate University, and his new book shows how insurers categorized individuals and grouped social classes in ways that assigned monetary valu... |

2015-Nov-12 • 54 minutesJohn Allen Paulos, “A Numerate Life” (Prometheus Books, 2015)John Allen Paulos, who has accomplished the unheard-of double of writing best-sellers about mathematics and inserting a word (‘innumeracy’) into the language, has attempted another ambitious feat – bringing mathematics to bear on one of the few subjects it has yet to examine: biography and autobiography. A Numerate Life (Prometheus Books, 2015) is simultaneously a charming memoir and a highly entertaining venture into mathematics, literature, and philosophy. This is one of those rare books that, when you ha... |

2015-Sep-30 • 56 minutesArthur Benjamin, “The Magic of Math” (Basic Book, 2015)Today we’ll be talking about The Magic of Math (Basic Books, 2015)by Arthur Benjamin. This is a book that has the gee-whiz feeling you got when you first encountered George Gamow’s classic One, Two, Three … Infinity, but brought up to date and with much more in the way of solid mathematics that students can actually use. What makes this book especially appealing is that Benjamin emphasizes the magic that can be found in the mathematics that students study as they proceed through elementary and secondary sch... |

2015-Jul-15 • 69 minutesMargaret Morrison, “Reconstructing Reality: Models, Mathematics, and Simulations” (Oxford UP, 2015)Almost 400 years ago, Galileo wrote that the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. Today, mathematics is integral to physics and chemistry, and is becoming so in biology, economics, and other sciences, although amid great controversy. The messy reality of biological creatures and their social relations cannot be captured in mathematical models or computer simulations, it is argued. But what is the relation between mathematics and physical reality? Do highly abstract mathematical formalis... |

2015-Mar-26 • 68 minutesChristopher J. Phillips, “The New Math: A Political History” (U of Chicago Press, 2015)Christopher J. Phillips‘ new book is a political history of the “New Math,” a collection of curriculum reform projects in the 1950s & 1960s that were partially sponsored by the NSF and involved hundreds of mathematicians, teachers, professors, administrators, parents, and students. The New Math: A Political History (University of Chicago Press, 2015) explores the formation of an idea of the “American subject” in an environment where math was considered to be a component of intelligent citizenship. As classr... |

2014-Oct-15 • 53 minutesColin Adams, “Zombies and Calculus” (Princeton UP, 2014)The book discussed in this interview is Zombies and Calculus (Princeton University Press, 2014) by Colin Adams. This is a truly unique book; a novel written in the first-person by the survivor of a zombie apocalypse who has managed to make it that far thanks to his knowledge of calculus. The author starts his narrative by warning the reader that the book is not for the squeamish, but you shouldn’t be deterred by that, as I found the zombies to be more comical than horrific. The book is especially worthw... |

2014-Jul-08 • 55 minutesJordan Ellenberg, “How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking” (Penguin Press, 2014)The book discussed in this interview is How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking (Penguin Press, 2014), by Jordan Ellenberg. This is one of those rare books that belong on the reading list of every educated person, especially those who love mathematics, but more importantly, those who hate it. Ellenberg succeeds in explaining the value of mathematical reasoning without ever needing to go into technical detail, which makes the book ideal for those who want to learn why mathematics is so impo... |

2014-Jun-26 • 63 minutesSue VanHattum, “Playing with Math: Stories from Math Circles, Homeschoolers, and Passionate Teachers” (Natural Math, 2015)[Re-published with permission from Inspired by Math] Sue VanHattum is a math professor, blogger, mother, author/editor, and fundraiser. She’s a real powerhouse of motivation for making math fun and accessible to more of our young folks. Sue has teamed up with a number of writers to compile a book, Playing With Math, which she is producing in partnership withMaria Droujkova in a community sponsored publication model. Sue and I shared a delightful chat about what math is, what the book is about, and how we c... |

2014-Jun-20 • 75 minutesAl Cuoco and Joe Rotman, “Learning Modern Algebra: From Early Attempts to Prove Fermat’s Last Theorem” (MAA, 2013)[Re-published with permission from Inspired by Math] The MAA (Mathematical Association of America) sent me a review copy of their new book Learning Modern Algebra: From Early Attempts to Prove Fermat’s Last Theorem. I don’t typically review textbooks but the title and then the contents of the book convinced me that I needed to interview the authors. Joe Rotman wasn’t available but I was able to chat with the other co-author, Al Cuoco. I was really struck with Al’s passion about teaching the teachers as well... |

2014-Jun-09 • 78 minutesDavid Reimer, “Count Like an Egyptian: A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics” (Princeton UP, 2014)[Re-posted with permission from Sol Lederman’s Wild About Math] I love novel ways of looking at arithmetic. I’m fascinated with how computers compute in binary, with tricks for simplifying calculations and with how Vedic mathematicians handle difficult arithmetic efficiently. So, when Princeton University Press sent me a review copy of their new book Count Like an Egyptian: A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics (Princeton University Press, 2014), I immediately fell in love with it. I was delighted ... |

2014-Jun-09 • 45 minutesPeter Gardenfors, “The Geometry of Meaning: Semantics Based on Conceptual Spaces” (MIT Press, 2014)A conceptual space sounds like a rather nebulous thing, and basing a semantics on conceptual spaces sounds similarly nebulous. In The Geometry of Meaning: Semantics Based on Conceptual Spaces (MIT Press, 2014), Peter Gardenfors demonstrates that this need not be the case. Indeed, his research is directed towards establishing a formal, mathematically-grounded account of semantics, an account which – as expounded here – is nevertheless accessible. In this interview we discuss the essence of this proposal, foc... |

2014-Apr-17 • 54 minutesOscar E. Fernandez, “Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us (Princeton UP, 2014)The book discussed in this interview is Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us (Princeton University Press, 2014) by Oscar E. Fernandez, who teaches mathematics – and calculus in particular – at Wellesley College. While it can be read by someone who wants to obtain a sense of what calculus is and how it’s used, it is even more enjoyable and enlightening if the reader has taken the first semester of a calculus course. The author takes the reader through a day in the author’s life, dur... |

2014-Apr-15 • 61 minutesMichael Strevens, “Tychomancy: Inferring Probability from Causal Structure” (Harvard UP, 2013)When we’re faced with a choice between Door #1, Door #2, and Door #3, how do we infer correctly that there’s an equal chance of the prize being behind any of the doors? How is it that we are generally correct to choose the shorter of two checkout lines in the supermarket when we’re in a hurry? In his new book, Tychomancy: Inferring Probability from Causal Structure (Harvard University Press, 2013), Michael Strevens – professor of philosophy at New York University, argues that we are all equipped with a reli... |

2014-Apr-08 • 73 minutesTim Chartier, “Math Bytes: Google Bombs, Chocolate-Covered Pi, and Other Cool Bits in Computing” (Princeton UP, 2014)[Re-posted with permission from Wild About Math] My favorite kind of math challenges are those that children can understand and professional mathematicians can’t solve easily (or at all.) Math Bytes: Google Bombs, Chocolate-Covered Pi, and Other Cool Bits in Computing (Princeton University Press, 2014) is a brand new book from Princeton University Press that has a great collection of fun problems that kids (middle school and above) and their parents can work on together. Author Tim Chartier does a fantastic... |

2014-Feb-14 • 96 minutesChuck Adler, “Wizards, Aliens, and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction” (Princeton UP, 2014)[Re-posted with permission from Wild About Math] I’ve admitted before that Physics and I have never gotten along. But, science fiction is something I enjoy. So, when Princeton University Press sent me a copy of Physics Professor Chuck Adler‘s new book Wizards, Aliens, and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction (Princeton University Press, 2014), I was intrigued enough that I wanted to interview the author. This interview rambled, but in a good way. Chuck is a great guest, he’s passionat... |

2014-Feb-11 • 52 minutesEli Maor and Eugen Jost, “Beautiful Geometry” (Princeton UP, 2014)Beautiful Geometry (Princeton UP, 2014), by the mathematician prof. Eli Maor and the noted artist Eugen Jost. It’s a fascinating collaboration which helps to bridge the gap deplored by C. P. Snow in his classic The Two Cultures. If you’re a lover of geometry, you’ll find some of your favorites depicted here – as well as a number of theorems that will undoubtedly be new to many readers (including the interviewer). Each result is accompanied by an original work of art by Eugen Jost. It’s fascinating not o... |

2013-Nov-08 • 57 minutesEdward Frenkel, “Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality” (Basic Books, 2013)The book discussed in this interview is Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality Basic Books, 2013) by Edward Frenkel of the University of California at Berkeley.It’s a toss-up which is more interesting – the description of Frenkel’s life or his description of his interest in – and love for – mathematics and physics. Before he was twenty years old, Frenkel had written a paper that a visiting Swedish physicist thought so intriguing that he smuggled it out of Russia.That paper started Frenkel on a career wh... |

2013-Sep-26 • 76 minutesColm Mulcahy, “Mathematical Card Magic: Fifty-Two New Effects” (A K Peters, 2013)[Re-posted with permission from Wild About Math] I had the pleasure of interviewing mathematician and mathematical card magic innovator Colm Mulcahy. Dr. Mulcahy just published a book, Mathematical Card Magic: Fifty-Two New Effects (A K Peters, 2013) We spent a delightful hour discussing his book, his love of math and magic, and the inspiration behind writing the book. Plus, Dr. Mulcahy shares a few challenges listeners might enjoy chewing on, sprinkled throughout the interview. And, we discuss Martin Gard... |

2013-Jun-04 • 53 minutesBrian Clegg, “Dice World: Science and Life in a Random Universe” (Icon Books, 2013)The book discussed in this interview is Dice World: Science and Life in a Random Universe (Icon Books, 2013), by Brian Clegg, an acclaimed British writer of books on science for the general public. Brian has a knack for taking concepts that seem abstruse and explaining them in ways that those who lack a technical background can readily understand. This talent is on display inDice World, where he takes the reader on an intriguing trip through the world of probability and statistics, and shows how these disci... |

2013-May-06 • 57 minutesLeonard Wapner, “Unexpected Expectations: The Curiosities of a Mathematical Crystal Ball” (A.K. Peters, 2012)Today I talked to Leonard Wapner about his new book Unexpected Expectations: The Curiosities of a Mathematical Crystal Ball (A.K. Peters, 2012). Prof. Wapner’s previous book, The Pea and the Sun, was an in-depth investigation of the Banach-Tarski Theorem, one of the most counterintuitive results in mathematics. Expectation is an extension of the idea of average value, and is a basic tool of probability theory that underlies both the gaming and insurance industries. Unexpected Expectations is a fascinatin... |

2013-Apr-02 • 54 minutesLance Fortnow, “The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible” (Princeton UP, 2013))Today we’ll be discussing Lance Fortnow‘s bookThe Golden Ticket:P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible (Princeton University Press, 2013).The book focuses on the challenges associated with solving problems requiring significant computation, such as “What is the largest group of Facebook users, all of whom know each other?”If it is shown that all computational problems can be solved relatively easily (this is known as showing that P=NP), then such problems as finding a cure for cancer and other diseases wo... |

2013-Mar-13 • 61 minutesLeila Schneps and Coralie Colmez, “Math on Trial” (Basic Books, 2013)You may well have seen “Numb3rs,” a TV show in which mathematicians help solve crimes. It’s fiction. But, as Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez show in their eye-opening new book Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Court Room (Basic Books, 2013) math does play a role in criminal prosecution. Alas, it’s often bad math and, as such, often leads to bad outcomes: people get off who shouldn’t and others get convicted who shouldn’t. Schneps and Colmez show how math has been misused in ten interest... |

2012-Oct-19 • 70 minutesCatherine Jami, “The Emperor’s New Mathematics: Western Learning and Imperial Authority During the Kangxi Reign (1662-1722)” (Oxford UP, 2012)Challenging conventional modes of understanding China and the circulation of knowledge within the history of science, Catherine Jami‘s new book looks closely at the imperial science of the reign of the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1662-1722). It focuses on the history of mathematics in this context, but situates the story of mathematics and Kangxi within a larger framework that extends from the late Ming through the years after Kangxi’s reign, and treating much more than mathematics in the course of the analysis. Th... |

2012-Jul-27 • 68 minutesRoger Hart, “The Chinese Roots of Linear Algebra” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2011)Roger Hart‘s The Chinese Roots of Linear Algebra (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011) is the first book-length study of linear algebra in imperial China, and is based on an astounding combination of erudition and expertise in both Chinese history and the practice and history of linear algebra. Alternating among an interdisciplinary array of materials and ideas that range from the Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Arts to modern matrix theory, Hart argues for the importance of visualization to the solution... |