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π: A Biography of the World's Most Mysterious Number

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We all learned that the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is called pi and that the value of this algebraic symbol is roughly 3.14. What we weren't told, though, is that behind this seemingly mundane fact is a world of mystery, which has fascinated mathematicians from ancient times to the present. Simply put, pi is weird. Mathematicians call it a "tran We all learned that the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is called pi and that the value of this algebraic symbol is roughly 3.14. What we weren't told, though, is that behind this seemingly mundane fact is a world of mystery, which has fascinated mathematicians from ancient times to the present. Simply put, pi is weird. Mathematicians call it a "transcendental number" because its value cannot be calculated by any combination of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and square root extraction. In this delightful layperson's introduction to one of math's most interesting phenomena, Drs. Posamentier and Lehmann review pi's history from prebiblical times to the 21st century, the many amusing and mind-boggling ways of estimating pi over the centuries, quirky examples of obsessing about pi (including an attempt to legislate its exact value), and useful applications of pi in everyday life, including statistics. This enlightening and stimulating approach to mathematics will entertain lay readers while improving their mathematical literacy.


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We all learned that the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is called pi and that the value of this algebraic symbol is roughly 3.14. What we weren't told, though, is that behind this seemingly mundane fact is a world of mystery, which has fascinated mathematicians from ancient times to the present. Simply put, pi is weird. Mathematicians call it a "tran We all learned that the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is called pi and that the value of this algebraic symbol is roughly 3.14. What we weren't told, though, is that behind this seemingly mundane fact is a world of mystery, which has fascinated mathematicians from ancient times to the present. Simply put, pi is weird. Mathematicians call it a "transcendental number" because its value cannot be calculated by any combination of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and square root extraction. In this delightful layperson's introduction to one of math's most interesting phenomena, Drs. Posamentier and Lehmann review pi's history from prebiblical times to the 21st century, the many amusing and mind-boggling ways of estimating pi over the centuries, quirky examples of obsessing about pi (including an attempt to legislate its exact value), and useful applications of pi in everyday life, including statistics. This enlightening and stimulating approach to mathematics will entertain lay readers while improving their mathematical literacy.

30 review for π: A Biography of the World's Most Mysterious Number

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dave Brothers

    The first third of this book is chock full of wildly interesting mathematical history regarding the evolution of our understanding of pi - a highly-intriguing and ubiquitous number with a simple concept (the ratio of a circle's diameter to its circumference) yet an as-yet-unobtainable exact value. If (and only if) you're highly interested in lists of formulas (which, admittedly, I kind of am), the middle of the book is relatively interesting. The last 40 or so pages are dedicated to showing the The first third of this book is chock full of wildly interesting mathematical history regarding the evolution of our understanding of pi - a highly-intriguing and ubiquitous number with a simple concept (the ratio of a circle's diameter to its circumference) yet an as-yet-unobtainable exact value. If (and only if) you're highly interested in lists of formulas (which, admittedly, I kind of am), the middle of the book is relatively interesting. The last 40 or so pages are dedicated to showing the entire length of the known value of pi which is an astounding accomplishment to behold, but naturally not the most thrilling reading material in and of itself. Definitely check it out for the historical value; thanks to this book, I discovered how long 500 stadia are!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    A good book, most of the facts were known for me, but I really enjoyed the recreational math part.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carly

    I did not read this book for pleasure, I read it because I had to write a paper about pi. The book actually wasn't as boring as I thought it would be. There were some very interesting facts about pi I never knew, but I am a nerd, what can I say... I did not read this book for pleasure, I read it because I had to write a paper about pi. The book actually wasn't as boring as I thought it would be. There were some very interesting facts about pi I never knew, but I am a nerd, what can I say...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    I'm no master of maths, but numbers and mathematics make for fascinating material when given the proper treatment. This book succeeded in illuminating that mysterious number that is found in every circle. I'm no master of maths, but numbers and mathematics make for fascinating material when given the proper treatment. This book succeeded in illuminating that mysterious number that is found in every circle.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mike Budzik

    A quick read because IV been through most of the information before. Chapter 7 (Paradox in π) salvaged the book in my opinion.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joel

    The book is filled with mathematical theorems and isn't approachable for a casual reader as promised by the authors. The book is filled with mathematical theorems and isn't approachable for a casual reader as promised by the authors.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Greig

  9. 4 out of 5

    Craig

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marts (Thinker)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jim Beanan

  12. 5 out of 5

    Florence

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aswath

  14. 4 out of 5

    Doyle McCay IV

  15. 4 out of 5

    Slawek

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  17. 4 out of 5

    Roel

  18. 4 out of 5

    Р.Шон

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marys Niesink

  20. 4 out of 5

    Geetanjali

  21. 4 out of 5

    Oren

  22. 5 out of 5

    Xun Peng

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marélette van Dalen

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Grace

  25. 5 out of 5

    Fergal O'donnell

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gokce Onur

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robert Kaufman

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tim Crews

  30. 5 out of 5

    Avinash

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