1089 and All That: A Journey Into Mathematics by David Acheson

By David Acheson

David Acheson's notable little ebook makes arithmetic obtainable to all people. From extremely simple beginnings he is taking us on an exhilarating trip to a few deep mathematical rules. at the manner, through Kepler and Newton, he explains what calculus relatively ability, supplies a quick historical past of pi, or even takes us to chaos conception and imaginary numbers. each brief bankruptcy is punctiliously crafted to make sure that nobody gets misplaced at the trip. full of puzzles and illustrated through international recognized cartoonists, this can be the most readable and inventive books on arithmetic ever written.

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But imagine, for instance, dividing up a cake by first taking half the cake, then a quarter, then an eighth, and so on: It is very noticeable that with each new piece we take, in this particular way, the amount of cake left over is halved. Suddenly, then, two things seem clear. First, we are never going to get the whole cake by this procedure. Second, we can, however, get as much of it as we like by taking enough pieces. And this is, essentially, exactly what mathematicians mean when they say that converges to the value 1.

And this is, essentially, exactly what mathematicians mean when they say that converges to the value 1. In this sense, then, it is certainly possible for an infinite series of terms to have a finite ‘sum’. But it won’t always happen, and a famous cautionary example of this is the series Once again, each term is smaller than the one before, but this time the terms are not getting smaller fast enough, and the series does not converge to a finite sum. And there is a very simple, elegant argument which shows this.

How many quadratic equations did it take to get to the Moon? But if you really want to see algebra in action you can do a lot worse than combine it with geometry. This particular development in mathematics, in the early seventeenth century, is due largely to Fermat and Descartes. They wanted to be able to convert geometric problems into algebraic ones, or vice versa. As Descartes himself put it: In this way, I should be borrowing all that is best in geometry and algebra, and should be correcting all the defects of the one by the help of the other.

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