Choice

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

This work succeeds The Art of Mathematics (CH, Dec'92, 30-2125); King (emer., Lehigh) claims his first work revealed the "mathematical bridge" between C. P Snow's "two cultures"; here, he "shows the way across." His audience comprises intellectually curious members of the "N-culture," who either do not understand mathematics or have forgotten what they once knew. As in poetry, the need is to first determine exactly what the mathematics is saying (e.g., definitions/theorems/symbols), and then understand its special "way of saying" (e.g., manipulations/proofs). The thesis is that to journey across the bridge between the two cultures by learning mathematics, one must master some of its fundamental parts, hence the ten lessons. Compressed between bookend chapters on truth, beauty, and aesthetics, the ten lessons start with basic counting and end with calculus, interrupted by a tangential journey into probability. Given this same context, other mathematicians would suggest a different ten lessons, and probably not reach consensus on the "basic mathematical notions." For example, King focuses on number theory at the expense of geometry. As a mathematician, this reviewer cannot determine if the author succeeds in his lofty goal, but must leave that decision to members of the N-culture trying to "cross the bridge." Summing Up: Recommended. All academic, professional, and general readers. J. Johnson Western Washington University