2010;
236 pp;
Softcover

MSC: Primary 00; 01; 97;

Print ISBN: 978-0-8218-4928-6

Product Code: MBK/73

List Price: $37.00

Individual Member Price: $29.60

**Electronic ISBN: 978-1-4704-1606-5
Product Code: MBK/73.E**

List Price: $37.00

Individual Member Price: $29.60

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#### Supplemental Materials

# A Mathematical Medley: Fifty Easy Pieces on Mathematics

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*George G. Szpiro*

George Szpiro was the winner of the 2006 DMV Media Prize for his
monthly mathematical column in the Neue Nücher Zeitung.

Szpiro's book provides a delightful, well-written, eclectic selection of mathematical tidbits that makes excellent airplane reading for anyone with an interest in mathematics, regardless of their mathematical background. Excellent gift material.

—Keith Devlin, Stanford University, author of The Unfinished Game and The Language of Mathematics

It is great to have collected in one volume the many varied, insightful and often surprising mathematical stories that George Szpiro has written in his mathematical columns for the newspapers through the years.

—Marcus du Sautoy, Oxford University,
author of The Music of the Primes and
Symmetry: A Journey into the Patterns of Nature

Mathematics is thriving. Not only have long-standing problems, such as
the Poincaré conjecture, been solved, but mathematics is an important
element of many modern conveniences, such as cell phones, CDs, and
secure transactions over the Internet. For good or for bad, it is also
the engine that drives modern investment strategies. Fortunately for
the general public, mathematics and its modern applications can be
intelligible to the non-specialist, as George Szpiro shows in A
Mathematical Medley.

In stories of a few pages each, Szpiro describes in layman's terms
mathematical problems that have recently been solved (or thought to have
been solved), research that was published in scientific journals, and
mathematical observations about contemporary life. Anecdotal stories about
the lives of mathematicians and stories about famous old problems are
interspersed among other vignettes.

#### Table of Contents

# Table of Contents

## A Mathematical Medley: Fifty Easy Pieces on Mathematics

- Cover Cover11 free
- Title page iii4 free
- Contents vii8 free
- Chapter 1. A baker’s dozen 112 free
- Chapter 2. Getting closer to the roots 1526
- Chapter 3. Mock functions 1930
- Chapter 4. Meanderings of a mathematical proof 2334
- Chapter 5. All roads lead to Rome 2536
- Chapter 6. Secrets hidden in numbers 2940
- Chapter 7. Prime time for primes 3344
- Chapter 8. Stamps and coins 3950
- Chapter 9. On the (Un)fairness of queues 4354
- Chapter 10. Run or walk on the walkway? 4758
- Chapter 11. Suspicious use of the digit “9” 5162
- Chapter 12. The letter writers 5566
- Chapter 13. Wobbly tables 5970
- Chapter 14. Bella Abramova Subbotovskaya and the “Jewish People’s University” 6576
- Chapter 15. No answer from Professor Ekhad 7586
- Chapter 16. The yippie mathematician 7990
- Chapter 17. Sibling rivalry 8596
- Chapter 18. A diplomat with a love for numbers 89100
- Chapter 19. The “wunderkind” 93104
- Chapter 20. Brilliant but fallible 97108
- Chapter 21. The plane facts 103114
- Chapter 22. Creating bottlenecks 107118
- Chapter 23. All flights lead to Paris…and Anchorage 111122
- Chapter 24. Long-distance flights are grounded 115126
- Chapter 25. Calculating on the left side 121132
- Chapter 26. Losing the language instinct 125136
- Chapter 27. Information overload 129140
- Chapter 28. The case for mental arithmetic 133144
- Chapter 29. How many moves to Rubik? 139150
- Chapter 30. A puzzling puzzle 143154
- Chapter 31. Boring assembly debates 147158
- Chapter 32. A step too far 151162
- Chapter 33. Givers and takers 155166
- Chapter 34. Who wins tic-tac-toe? 159170
- Chapter 35. Liars and half-liars 163174
- Chapter 36. Perfect chequers ends in a draw 167178
- Chapter 37. The Talmud—A precursor to game theory? 173184
- Chapter 38. How the cake crumbles 177188
- Chapter 39. Spoilt for choice 181192
- Chapter 40. Selecting the best pope and the best song 185196
- Chapter 41. Follow the money 191202
- Chapter 42. Earthquakes, epileptic fits, and the stock market crash 195206
- Chapter 43. Don’t shoot the messenger 201212
- Chapter 44. Fascinating fractals 207218
- Chapter 45. In dubio (probably) pro reo 211222
- Chapter 46. Once upon a time there was a mathematical problem 215226
- Chapter 47. If only my ringtone were unique 219230
- Chapter 48. Enforcing voluntary cooperation 223234
- Chapter 49. Code or hoax? 225236
- Chapter 50. Crusade against sloppy mathematics 229240
- References 233244
- Back Cover Back Cover1250

#### Readership

This book is intended for true general readers who are interested in any sort of mathematics.

#### Reviews

[This book] is an interesting collection of stories that will be accessible to a wide audience. ... It can also serve as a supplemental resource for math majors in a history of mathematics course.

-- CHOICE Reviews