[Math Lair] The Magic of Mathematics by Theoni Pappas

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The Magic of Mathematics by Theoni Pappas (Wide World Publishing/Tetra, 1994) makes for very enjoyable reading. The subject matter of the book is quite varied, but as a whole might best be called "Mathematics Appreciation" (which, incidentally, is the title of an earlier book by Pappas. Covered in the book are topics as widely varied as tesselations, optical illusions, fractals, mathematics in art, various number theory-related topics, the history of mathematics, cryptography, mathematics in architecture, logic puzzles, and much more.

The book takes the form of a large number of mini-essays, many of which are 1–3 pages long. With such large breadth, topics are not treated in great depth, but are skimmed over in a way that keeps the general reader interested. Most of the mini-essays are illustrated with figures, illustrations, photographs (some of which would look better if printed at a higher resolution) and other images. The book contains a very comprehensive reference section, but it might have been nice to tie specific mini-essays to specific references. Overall, a very entertaining and interesting book that should give readers a glimpse of the beauty of mathematics.

Rating: 8.5/10