3rd May, 2013
My intention is to show how mathematics is essential to many aspects of today’s world. So each of its 35 chapters discusses a genuine application of maths to some other part of life. The title comes from the sections on symmetry in physics and chaos in population biology. There are other chapters focusing on traditional sciences, including chemistry, astronomy, and optics.
However, much of the book is concerned with modern technology. Just about everyone knows, at some level, that maths plays a central role in our interconnected, computerized, hi-tech world. But far fewer people have a good sense for what that role actually is. So I have included chapters discussing how maths enables the rendering of CGI graphics, allows us to search the internet quickly and email our friends securely, how it guides the limbs of robots, and the trajectories of spacecraft, and much else besides.
Also covered are various overlooked techniques which nevertheless contribute enormously to the smooth running of modern civilization, including industrial optimization, weather forecasting, queuing theory, and the mathematical modelling of disease epidemics.
What else? Add a dash of economics, a sprinkling of psychology, a spoonful of game theory, a little something on the theory of elections, the sociology of Facebook, the relationship between computer programming and logical paradox, and garnish with handful of statistical illusions.
I hope that the reader will come away not only convinced of the fact that maths is indeed essential to the modern world, but will also have a better insight into how.
7th December, 2011
1. I’m on Google+ a lot these days. It’s now definitely my social medium of choice. Come and join in!
2. Coming out of discussions on G+, I cowrote a piece with John Baez on Babylonian mathematics and the square root of 2, which is now up on John’s blog Azimuth. (I can’t resist adding that John was also kind enough to write a flattering review of Maths 1001.)
3. And by no means least… I have a new book out! It’s called The Maths Handbook. I’ve been chatting about it, and maths in general, with Daniel Fraser on the Quercus Couch.
26th October, 2010
I’ve been doing some updates around this place. If things look rickety it’s because I am now phping and htmling myself. I’m having fun with it, but if I’m honest I don’t really know what I am doing. In fact, I don’t even know the difference between php and html. Luckily I have a tame professional webdesigner who should be able to repair any havoc I wreak.
The most important change is that this blog is finally equipped with an RSS feed. I encourage you to subscribe, because posting is likely to remain erratic, so the old fashioned method of clicking over here every once in a while might prove frustrating. Having said that, I do have a few posts lined up for the days ahead.
In celebration of this great step forward, I have decided to officially baptise this blog. Hereafter it will no longer be known only as “Richard Elwes’ blog”, but as “Simple City”.
In other news, my book Mathematics 1001 is now out… sort of. If you live in the USA, then it is definitely and unambiguously out. I think the same is true in Canada. For residents of the UK, the book is currently in a quantum out/not out state. The wave function seems to depend what sort of outlet you try to buy it from. It is not yet in the shops, but it is, I believe, available online. The official final release date here is 6th November. For citizens of Australia, and other countries, well, I don’t know. But it should be out soon, at least.
Anway, I am collecting book reviews (hooray!) and errata (boo!) here. So far there are barely any of either, but that will certainly change within the next couple of weeks. I’ll confine the updates to those pages rather than blogging them, so if you’re interested then check back there occasionally. (If you have any information for me about such things, then I’d be very grateful if you could drop me a line, or leave a comment here.)