Maths 1001: Reviews

“…does a great job of covering in a nutshell a huge number of ideas/concepts/terms cutting across a broad swath of mathematics. Several such books are already available, but this looks to be the best one I’ve seen yet…”

– Shecky R at Math-Frolic !


“I really, really wish I’d had a book like this when I was younger. Math is a huge enchanted kingdom with many highways and byways, dark forests and dragon-infested mountain ranges. It took me decades to wander across it, extricate myself from various tar pits, and get some sense of the overall lay of the land. This book would have sped that process immensely, in a very pleasant way.

“So if you’d like to know more about math, get this book! And if you know a kid, or friend, who is interested in math but not yet an expert, give them this book!”

– John Baez at Azimuth


“I am very glad to own a copy of your 1001 book. I think it is very valuable, and I will make good use of its wide ranging discussions.”


“Dr Elwes’ enthusiasm for his subject is astounding… The examples are easy to follow, and this really is the only maths book you should ever need to buy unless you’re going into higher mathematics at uni. Fantastic.”


“The ability to harness intuition and strip away technicalities, while still remaining correct, is what makes a great popular maths writer. And in Maths 1001 Elwes has put this talent to good use… Elwes’ concise style, distilling the essence of ideas without getting bogged down in technicalities, brings across the beauty of the ideas and of the mathematical journey that gave rise to them… If you’re a student of maths at any level, then [Maths 1001] makes a great companion, giving you a broad overview and slightly friendlier perspective on things than an ordinary textbook. If you’re just interested in maths, then it provides a quick way to get your grounding in the different areas and an idea of the kind of questions that occupy research mathematicians. It’s amazing just how far Elwes’ accessible explanations can take you.”

– Marianne Freiberger at Plus magazine


“The notable thing about Maths 1001 is the sheer force of clarity it’s all presented with. From the very basics of addition and multiplication, through geometry, discrete maths, probability, it’s always explained in crystal clear, flowing english… The range of the 1001 entries is spot on, a good mixture of the most important and the most interesting”

– Geoff at Cool Science Books


“The accessible text is written without troublesome jargon and terminology… One can rarely call a mathematics book fun, but that’s exactly what Elwes’s book is. Appropriate for school, public, and academic collections.”


“I found it absolutely fascinating. In grad school, I got an inkling of the things mathematicians study, but this book presents an overview of the subject in all its splendor. Dr. Elwes is brilliant at giving the reader the broad perspective, with enough details to fascinate, rather than confuse… I highly recommend this book for any student considering math as their future field of study, as well as anyone who ever enjoyed studying math. For that matter, this book would also be good for anyone who finds math at all intriguing.”

– Sondra Eklund at Sonder Books


“Fun reading, great entertainment, but also a seriously good reference for up to date topics in all of math. I’d call it an IDEAL COMPANION to further web and book study, as there are very few books out today that cover, and connect, the hundreds of areas now being researched in math. The author also has to be a fantastic teacher, because even in areas as complex as partial differential equations, his examples are High School level, but insightful at the same time, making this fun and valuable even for those with great math skills.”


“Designed with the general reader and students in mind, this volume provides clear and concise explanations of mathematical concepts. It uses the simplest, jargon-free language possible to clarify such concepts as probability and statistics, discrete mathematics, logic, and analysis. Covering 1001 mathematical topics, the work covers such subjects as geometry, algebra, numbers, applied mathematics, and calculus. This is a fun resource that can make most any student find something interesting in mathematics. It is a concise, general work that can be used for browsing or for looking up specific topics in both high school and public libraries.”

– Melinda F. Matthews, American Reference Books Annual 2010


“I have been dipping into your wonderful MATHS 1001 for the last year with great enjoyment… it continues to give me great pleasure. It’s my bedside reading… you have really made those entries comprehensible to the non-mathematician… It’s really fantastically entertaining. “


“Currently my favorite read and my launching pad for ideas when I’m bored. And I hate being bored. I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription during those times is this book.”

Multiplication by Infinity’s list of the five best introductory books to Mathematics


“I recently purchased your marvelous book and would like to add my highest praise to the many well-deserved accolades that it has already received.”

– Kenneth A. Perko, Jr. (of pairhood fame)

“Dear Richard Elwes,

“Your book is the main reason I ever bothered to try maths at all. I first saw your book when I was nine. At the time, the reason why I was in the “adult” section of the library was because it was part of a school project. While I was looking for books about Benjamin Franklin, the cover of this book caught my eye. It was interesting, like a wonderland of mathematical computations. I was an avid reader, having read nearly all books of the fiction genre in my age range. I checked out the book and went home.

“Though I was forbidden to play on electronics at night, I am allowed to read books past bedtime. I opened your book to discover an entire slew of mathematical formulas and theorems and postulates and joy. Everything that I had a question about was answered in bite sized paragraphs, ranging from pre-algebra to calculus. I kept reading well past the time I should, and eventually fell asleep not due to choice, but to exhaustion.

“On the next day, I was very tired, and forgot almost everything about what I read the previous night. What I did remember was that I enjoyed it. Whenever I would get into a car ride, or alone, or just any time where I wanted to be amused. That night I read it again, and again on the next night, and the night after that, and so on.

“The entire ordeal changed the way I thought about mathematics as a whole. It used to be a boring chore thrown from teachers with too much time on their hands. Now, I see it as an exciting opportunity to explore and adventure through an entire new world. Whenever I do maths, it makes me think of your amazing book, and for that, I am entirely grateful.”

– Jackson Detterbeck

“I’ve enjoyed reading Maths 1001. I’ll flip through a few pages thinking the material is all familiar but then something… will stand out.”

– John D Cook at The Endeavour


“There is no doubt whatsoever that this is a useful book. A good marker of this is that, unlike many of the books that come into the review pile, I intend to keep this one. I think I will come back to it time and again to brush up on what some specific aspect of maths is.”


“Marvelous 30-second teasers into lots of really good maths! Elwes made some daring choices… Highly recommended!”


“I recently got a copy of Mathematics 1001, and I *love* it. I’m an Electronics/DSP Engineer trying to beef up my knowledge of mathematics, and I’ve had problems getting a foothold on the really juicy stuff. This book provides the speedy, clear, yet technically unafraid explanations that I need.”


“I have many reference books on Mathematics and Science but this by far the best, very informative with clear descriptions and concise diagrams. This book will definitely provide a good supplement to my Maths and Further Maths A-Level courses.”



“WOW! What a wonderful book with hundreds of concise and very valuable articles about all major areas of math. One of the best math books I have ever got my hands on.”



“Anyone who is curious about math, or perhaps has had some introduction to it and wants to know more about the entire breadth of the field, will really enjoy this book’s bite-sized layman-compatible descriptions… I *really* like this book so far. Easy 5-stars.”


“This is probably the most comprehensive book on mathematics for the well-educated lay person that I have ever read. In fact, I would recommend this book as a way to refresh one’s recollection of basic mathematics, geometry, algebra, trig, and calculus… it is the only book that I know that explains number theory and calculus and advanced topics in a manner accessible to a layperson. The book is an absolutely fascinating read.”


“This is a book that you dip into then find yourself reading more than you intended, such is its accessibility and easy-to-read style. Elwes covers everything from fundamental arithmetic to mathematical physics to logic to philosophies of mathematics…. A general book on mathematics for the student or anyone with a curious mind.”


“As a dip in resource that gives you an authoritative but brief introduction to many many aspects of mathematics it is excellent… I would recommend having this book on hand to anyone embarking on a mathematics course at intermediate or senior level.”



“A very user friendly book… this book has helped me in my courses and I recommend it for all people considering a future in science, math or physics.”


“I recently bought… ‘Maths 1001’… and have been enthralled in it since.”


“I loved the book. I’m currently borrowing it from the local library, but there’s just too much good stuff that I’m going to get my own copy. I have always been curious about maths, but never felt that I understood where things fit in the bigger picture. These 1001 pieces are separated far enough apart to keep my interest, are small enough to not drown me, and are woven tightly enough to maintain a flow.”

– Tan Bhatnagar


“Great book! Interesting and easy to digest… would recommend all my friends to read this book!”



“Maths for the million… it is excellent covering, as it says in the title, absolutely everything that matters in Mathematics. Dip into it for the answer to any maths question and you’ll find a reference to help you.”


“This is the perfect book for anyone interested in math to keep on the nightstand or coffee table for whenever she gets the munchies for a mathematical snack. Delicious, nutritious and digestible!”


“I had this book whilst I spent a recent 4 day sojourn in hospital and it ensured that I never got bored.”

– Paul P. Mealing, Journeyman Philosopher


“….the author has an amazing gift to explain the most difficult ideas with such clarity and brevity… what really stands out is the organization of the book. you can jump in and work yourself back if you are missing concepts but each math concept is never longer than 2-3min. and the presentation is outstanding. especially for students of all ages and teachers this book is a must read. to me, this is the best (modern) math book I have discovered so far. “


“I needed to revise my Calculus, and solid geometry. More than satisfied my needs plus found other interesting stuff just browsing. This shall always be a good reference book for me…”



“I think 1001 is splendid. The sections are nicely judged. They should inspire all the young maths students by giving them a copy.”

– John Wesson


“I read this book when it came out and I loved it! Highly recommended read!”


“Mathematics 1001 is the most interesting maths book I have ever picked up. You update with sufficient, but not overdone, detail recent results and developments that are hard to find for us numerate laymen. Very well done, sir.”


“As a general introduction or refresher for ‘everything mathematical’, Mathematics 1001 is a wonderful read…. Math pervades your life …your blood pressure, your golf score, your retirement investments performance. Mathematics 1001 will not fix any of those ‘problems’ for you. But this beautiful, empowering book will make you feel smarter than you thought you were.”

– sleeper54 at


“Deeply Informative, Easy To Understand, Well Written… Extremely succinct synopses of difficult concepts. Much better than many mathematical ‘dictionaries’.”



“I have just bought a book… which I would highly recommend for all Maths teachers… It’s going to take a long time to get through it all but the presentation and the content make it something I’m going to want to jump into on a regular basis… A great source for interesting lesson starters or challenges for inquiring minds. If your school has a “reading” period then this is the ideal book. Get it – if you love maths…it’s worth it.”

– Charles Smith at Mathematics Dump


“This is a wonderful reference book… The accessible style should appeal to those curious about the world of mathematics. It is a decent sized reference book with a hard cover and looks good on the coffee table too. Highly recommended. “


“Neatly ordered by topic and often accompanied by interesting visuals, concepts that previously seemed ridiculously stuffy and complex are explained by maths boffin Richard Elwes in concise, interesting snippets not much longer than a few paragraphs each… After dipping into this book you’ll no doubt feel confident to wade in and offer your two cents’ worth when conversation at the dinner table takes a mathematical turn.”

– Kim van Reizig at YOU


“This book is brilliant. As befits an author who writes for popular science magazines, it’s beautifully written in a concise and understandable way with little use of jargon… Historical asides add to the pleasure of reading through it which can be done by dipping piecemeal into it (in a ‘random walk’) or, as I found myself doing and against my better judgement, cover to cover… a superb book which is easily one of the best I’ve ever read on the subject.”


“Your book is a godsend. It is so clear and so easy to understand. My math book collections exceeds 50 books and yours is the best.”

– Chris Dunstan


“…very cool book indeed. I got it from my wife for Christmas and read every day a couple of entries…”



“Splendid book wish I had had it years ago.”



“I found the explanations to be so limpid that I am going to introduce some concepts to my kids earlier thanks to this book…. a really enjoyable read without having to piece everything by yourself…. Highly recommended for people looking for an overview or reminder of mathematical results explained in an understandable way. “


“…an interesting and fun read. I say this as someone who doesn’t have a math degree or a career in a related discipline… There’s a very well-balanced combination of history of mathematical thought and explanation of concepts that I wasn’t expecting the author to be able to hit.”



“This is a great book. Everytime you open it you will find something interesting to read. If you search anything you will find a clear and short explanation. “


“If you like maths at a hobby level, this is a great book. Bite-sized explanations of many theorems, conjectures, formulas, rules, fallacies and paradoxes. Have you heard of the hairy-ball theorem? The blue-eyed suicides? Cantor dust? They’re all here!”


“Your book is terrific– I picked it up at a Canberra public library and am half-way through it. I will order it soon. I had thought that Pickover’s “The Math Book” was excellent, but your is much more complete and more useful”


“I wanted a book to help me refresh my understanding of maths, studied in school a very long time ago, and this meets that need exactly. Easy to use, and well written. “


“Maths 1001… Science 1001… I highly recommend them!”


“I wanted to add another positive review for this book. I got it for my daughters for Christmas, and it was a coffee table book for a while. Recently, it has migrated to one of my daughter’s personal bookshelves. If you knew anything about this girl’s history with mathematics, you’d know how remarkable that is.”



“an accessible, absorbing introduction to the discipline”


“Amazingly thorough!… I can learn something new in 5 minutes or less – every time!”



“Excellent mathematics reference which is easy to read in small chunks and highly informative.”



“The Holy grail of maths…. Every person in the world should have this “


“A great reference book for all things mathematical. You don’t have to be a maths boffin to appreciate it. Very good book.”


“The best maths book I’ve ever bought… this book is excellent at explaining complex concepts in 5 or 6 lines. It’s also extremely comprehensive, and I haven’t found a maths concept that I’d like to know about that it doesn’t cover. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who would prefer to be a bit better at maths, either for your own personal interest or for academia.

Overall, I cannot speak highly enough of this book, and for a tenner you can’t go wrong! :-)”


“Exceptional book in approach and content… This is a terrific book… an exercise in concise communication. I sent a copy to one of my grandchildren (age 10), and he carries it around. If motivated, a young person can use this to explore a new world of math. But, it is great for people of all ages, and all levels of math in their background.”


“It covers so many areas with just enough [depth] to inspire the math student to explore further, to educate the non mathematician to the wondrous realm that the professional live in. If you never heard of algebraic geometry or cycloids or topology, you will find it here distilled into a bevity that will entice you to visit those areas that intrigue you. An excellent reference book for math students too.”

“I bought this book for my son, and he loves it! He especially enjoys reading it while he is eating, because, as he says, “you get a bite of math for every bite of food!”


“there are not many who would not learn something new from this excellent book”



“Può avere senso parlare di matematica dividendola in mille e una scheda da dieci-quindici righe, massimo venti? La risposta sorprendentemente è sì, come si può vedere da questo libro… Elwes parla di tanta matematica, arrivando alla teoria delle categorie e alla fisica matematica; l’approccio matematico alla meccanica quantistica è molto interessante…. Ma ritengo che il testo, nemmeno troppo caro, sia ottimo per chi voglia avere un manuale di riferimento (e sappia l’inglese).”