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Fascinating Mathematical People Cover

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Fascinating Mathematical People

Interviews and Memoirs

Donald J. Albers

Fascinating Mathematical People is a collection of informal interviews and memoirs of sixteen prominent members of the mathematical community of the twentieth century, many still active. The candid portraits collected here demonstrate that while these men and women vary widely in terms of their backgrounds, life stories, and worldviews, they all share a deep and abiding sense of wonder about mathematics.

Featured here--in their own words--are major research mathematicians whose cutting-edge discoveries have advanced the frontiers of the field, such as Lars Ahlfors, Mary Cartwright, Dusa McDuff, and Atle Selberg. Others are leading mathematicians who have also been highly influential as teachers and mentors, like Tom Apostol and Jean Taylor. Fern Hunt describes what it was like to be among the first black women to earn a PhD in mathematics. Harold Bacon made trips to Alcatraz to help a prisoner learn calculus. Thomas Banchoff, who first became interested in the fourth dimension while reading a Captain Marvel comic, relates his fascinating friendship with Salvador Dalí and their shared passion for art, mathematics, and the profound connection between the two. Other mathematical people found here are Leon Bankoff, who was also a Beverly Hills dentist; Arthur Benjamin, a part-time professional magician; and Joseph Gallian, a legendary mentor of future mathematicians, but also a world-renowned expert on the Beatles.

This beautifully illustrated collection includes many photographs never before published, concise introductions by the editors to each person, and a foreword by Philip J. Davis.

Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.

Fast Car Physics Cover

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Fast Car Physics

Chuck Edmondson

Revving engines, smoking tires, and high speeds. Car racing enthusiasts and race drivers alike know the thrill of competition, the push to perform better, and the agony—and dangers—of bad decisions. But driving faster and better involves more than just high horsepower and tightly tuned engines. Physicist and amateur racer Chuck Edmondson thoroughly discusses the physics underlying car racing and explains just what’s going on during any race, why, and how a driver can improve control and ultimately win. The world of motorsports is rich with excitement and competition—and physics. Edmondson applies common mathematical theories to real-world racing situations to reveal the secrets behind successful fast driving. He explains such key concepts as how to tune your car and why it matters, how to calculate 0 to 60 mph times and quarter-mile times and why they are important, and where, when, why, and how to use kinematics in road racing. He wraps it up with insight into the impact and benefit of green technologies in racing. In each case, Edmondson’s in-depth explanations and worked equations link the physics principles to qualitative racing advice. From selecting shifting points to load transfer in car control and beyond, Fast Car Physics is the ideal source to consult before buckling up and cinching down the belts on your racing harness.

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Forward-Looking Decision Making

Dynamic Programming Models Applied to Health, Risk, Employment, and Financial Stability

Robert E. Hall

Individuals and families make key decisions that impact many aspects of financial stability and determine the future of the economy. These decisions involve balancing current sacrifice against future benefits. People have to decide how much to invest in health care, exercise, their diet, and insurance. They must decide how much debt to take on, and how much to save. And they make choices about jobs that determine employment and unemployment levels. Forward-Looking Decision Making is about modeling this individual or family-based decision making using an optimizing dynamic programming model.

Robert Hall first reviews ideas about dynamic programs and introduces new ideas about numerical solutions and the representation of solved models as Markov processes. He surveys recent research on the parameters of preferences--the intertemporal elasticity of substitution, the Frisch elasticity of labor supply, and the Frisch cross-elasticity. He then examines dynamic programming models applied to health spending, long-term care insurance, employment, entrepreneurial risk-taking, and consumer debt.

Linking theory with data and applying them to real-world problems, Forward-Looking Decision Making uses dynamic optimization programming models to shed light on individual behaviors and their economic implications.

Fundamental Concepts of Mathematics Cover

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Fundamental Concepts of Mathematics

K.T. Leung ,P.H. Cheung

Basic concepts of number theory are discussed. Topics include set theory, mathematical induction, com-binatorics, arithmetic, real numbers, limit and convergence, and complex numbers.

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The Geographic Spread of Infectious Diseases: Models and Applications

Models and Applications

Lisa Sattenspiel

The 1918-19 influenza epidemic killed more than fifty million people worldwide. The SARS epidemic of 2002-3, by comparison, killed fewer than a thousand. The success in containing the spread of SARS was due largely to the rapid global response of public health authorities, which was aided by insights resulting from mathematical models. Models enabled authorities to better understand how the disease spread and to assess the relative effectiveness of different control strategies. In this book, Lisa Sattenspiel and Alun Lloyd provide a comprehensive introduction to mathematical models in epidemiology and show how they can be used to predict and control the geographic spread of major infectious diseases.

Key concepts in infectious disease modeling are explained, readers are guided from simple mathematical models to more complex ones, and the strengths and weaknesses of these models are explored. The book highlights the breadth of techniques available to modelers today, such as population-based and individual-based models, and covers specific applications as well. Sattenspiel and Lloyd examine the powerful mathematical models that health authorities have developed to understand the spatial distribution and geographic spread of influenza, measles, foot-and-mouth disease, and SARS. Analytic methods geographers use to study human infectious diseases and the dynamics of epidemics are also discussed. A must-read for students, researchers, and practitioners, no other book provides such an accessible introduction to this exciting and fast-evolving field.

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Gliding for Gold

The Physics of Winter Sports

Mark Denny

As anyone from cold climates knows, frequently occurring ice and snow lead to a special appreciation of sports such as skiing, sledding, and skating. Prolific physics popularizer Mark Denny’s take on winter athletics lays out the physical principles that govern glaciated game play. After discussing the physical properties of ice and snow and how physics describes sliding friction and aerodynamic drag, Denny applies these concepts to such sports as bobsledding, snowboarding, and curling. He explains why clap skates would only hinder hockey players, how a curling rock curls, the forces that control luge speed, how steering differs in skiing and snowboarding, and much more. With characteristic accuracy and a touch of wit, Denny provides fans, competitors, and coaches with handy, applicable insight into the games they love. His separate section of technical notes offers an original and mathematically rigorous exploration of the key aspects of winter sports physics. A physics-driven exploration of sports played on ice and snow that is truly fun and informative, Gliding for Gold is the perfect primer for understanding the science behind cold weather athletics.

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The Golden Ticket

P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible

Lance Fortnow

The P-NP problem is the most important open problem in computer science, if not all of mathematics. The Golden Ticket provides a nontechnical introduction to P-NP, its rich history, and its algorithmic implications for everything we do with computers and beyond. In this informative and entertaining book, Lance Fortnow traces how the problem arose during the Cold War on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and gives examples of the problem from a variety of disciplines, including economics, physics, and biology. He explores problems that capture the full difficulty of the P-NP dilemma, from discovering the shortest route through all the rides at Disney World to finding large groups of friends on Facebook. But difficulty also has its advantages. Hard problems allow us to safely conduct electronic commerce and maintain privacy in our online lives.

The Golden Ticket explores what we truly can and cannot achieve computationally, describing the benefits and unexpected challenges of the P-NP problem.

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Good Vibrations

The Physics of Music

Barry Parker

Why does a harpsichord sound different from a piano? For that matter, why does middle C on a piano differ from middle C on a tuning fork, a trombone, or a flute? Good Vibrations explains in clear, friendly language the out-of-sight physics responsible not only for these differences but also for the whole range of noises we call music. The physical properties and history of sound are fascinating to study. Barry Parker's tour of the physics of music details the science of how instruments, the acoustics of rooms, electronics, and humans create and alter the varied sounds we hear. Using physics as a base, Parker discusses the history of music, how sounds are made and perceived, and the various effects of acting on sounds. In the process, he demonstrates what acoustics can teach us about quantum theory and explains the relationship between harmonics and the theory of waves. Peppered throughout with anecdotes and examples illustrating key concepts, this invitingly written book provides a firm grounding in the actual and theoretical physics of music.

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Google's PageRank and Beyond

The Science of Search Engine Rankings

Amy N. Langville

Why doesn't your home page appear on the first page of search results, even when you query your own name? How do other web pages always appear at the top? What creates these powerful rankings? And how? The first book ever about the science of web page rankings, Google's PageRank and Beyond supplies the answers to these and other questions and more.

The book serves two very different audiences: the curious science reader and the technical computational reader. The chapters build in mathematical sophistication, so that the first five are accessible to the general academic reader. While other chapters are much more mathematical in nature, each one contains something for both audiences. For example, the authors include entertaining asides such as how search engines make money and how the Great Firewall of China influences research.

The book includes an extensive background chapter designed to help readers learn more about the mathematics of search engines, and it contains several MATLAB codes and links to sample web data sets. The philosophy throughout is to encourage readers to experiment with the ideas and algorithms in the text.

Any business seriously interested in improving its rankings in the major search engines can benefit from the clear examples, sample code, and list of resources provided.

  • Many illustrative examples and entertaining asides
  • MATLAB code
  • Accessible and informal style
  • Complete and self-contained section for mathematics review

Guesstimation Cover

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Guesstimation

Solving the World's Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin

Lawrence Weinstein

Guesstimation is a book that unlocks the power of approximation--it's popular mathematics rounded to the nearest power of ten! The ability to estimate is an important skill in daily life. More and more leading businesses today use estimation questions in interviews to test applicants' abilities to think on their feet. Guesstimation enables anyone with basic math and science skills to estimate virtually anything--quickly--using plausible assumptions and elementary arithmetic.

Lawrence Weinstein and John Adam present an eclectic array of estimation problems that range from devilishly simple to quite sophisticated and from serious real-world concerns to downright silly ones. How long would it take a running faucet to fill the inverted dome of the Capitol? What is the total length of all the pickles consumed in the US in one year? What are the relative merits of internal-combustion and electric cars, of coal and nuclear energy? The problems are marvelously diverse, yet the skills to solve them are the same. The authors show how easy it is to derive useful ballpark estimates by breaking complex problems into simpler, more manageable ones--and how there can be many paths to the right answer. The book is written in a question-and-answer format with lots of hints along the way. It includes a handy appendix summarizing the few formulas and basic science concepts needed, and its small size and French-fold design make it conveniently portable. Illustrated with humorous pen-and-ink sketches, Guesstimation will delight popular-math enthusiasts and is ideal for the classroom.

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