Monday, April 30, 2012

In Pursuit of the Unknown, by Ian Stewart

The sub-title is "17 equations that changed the world."  I was very optimistic about Professor Stewart's book and really wanted it to be great.   Sadly, that was not to be.

Why not?   With few exceptions, Stewart failed to make the complex equations understandable.   It is pretty easy to explain Pythagora's theorem.   Logarithms too, although the author didn't do a great job.  By the time we got to Euler's formula for polyhedra, things were going downhill at an alarming rate.

In fairness, it isn't easy to explain all these equations in lay terms.   But also in fairness, that was Stewart's mission; the job he took on and he failed at it.

The good news:  some interesting commentary about the figures behind the equations.

Don't waste your time, though, unless you're extremely well grounded in mathematics.

ISBN 0465029736

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