[Math Lair] Bridges to Infinity by Michael Guillen

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Bridges to Infinity: The Human Side of Mathematics by Michael Guillen (Jeremy P. Tarcher, Los Angeles, 1983) is a collection of essays on a wide assortment of topics of general interest. There are 17 essays in total in the book; on average, each essay is around 10 pages in length. In the book's 200 or so pages many topics of general interest are touched on, including logic, infinity, group theory (Guillen does a good job attempting to explain this in a non-technical manner), fractals, zero, non-Euclidean geometries, Gödel's theorem, probability and statistics, game theory, topology, combinatorics, and more.

Guillen acknowledges the existence of math anxiety among members of the general public. With that in mind, the book is written entirely without equations. The essays, while avoiding equations, are quite easy to follow. Being more mathematically inclined, I feel that the presentation would in a few cases be more clear or succinct with the occasional use of equations, but to each his own.

The only one issue I would have with the book is that the understanding of some of the underlying concepts appears to be a little soft. For example, on page 95, it is written that 1983 would be represented in ancient Greek numerals as TΣTNIIIAAA. Now, I've never heard of any ancient Greek number format that would represent the number 1983 like that (certainly neither Attic numerals nor Ionic numerals). As the author doesn't cite sources, I can only assume that he is mistaken. There are several places in the book where this sort of thing occurs. However, for the most part, these are nuisance errors and not the sort of thing that would completely invalidate the point that the author was trying to make.

Overall, a fairly good general interest book for someone who is not particularly mathematically inclined.

Rating: 7/10