By Keith Ball

How does arithmetic allow us to ship photos from area again to Earth? the place does the bell-shaped curve come from? Why do you want in simple terms 23 humans in a room for a 50/50 probability of 2 of them sharing a similar birthday? In unusual Curves, Counting Rabbits, and different Mathematical Explorations, Keith Ball highlights how rules, as a rule from natural math, can resolution those questions and lots of extra. Drawing on components of arithmetic from likelihood conception, quantity thought, and geometry, he explores quite a lot of strategies, a few extra light-hearted, others relevant to the improvement of the sector and used day-by-day via mathematicians, physicists, and engineers. all of the book's ten chapters starts off via outlining key options and is going directly to talk about, with the minimal of technical element, the rules that underlie them. every one contains puzzles and difficulties of various hassle. whereas the chapters are self-contained, additionally they exhibit the hyperlinks among likely unrelated subject matters. for instance, the matter of the way to layout codes for satellite tv for pc conversation provides upward thrust to an identical notion of uncertainty because the challenge of screening blood samples for illness. obtainable to an individual conversant in easy calculus, this ebook is a treasure trove of principles that would entertain, amuse, and bemuse scholars, academics, and math enthusiasts of every age.

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**Extra info for Strange curves, counting rabbits, and other mathematical explorations **

**Sample text**

That the number of factors on each side is the same (m = k) and that the qs are just a jumbled up arrangement of the ps. Using the Characteristic Property we can see that since p1 is a factor of n, it must be a factor of one of the qi on the right-hand side. But since each qi is itself prime, p1 must equal this qi . So we can cancel it from both sides and then continue with p2 . Eventually, we can cancel all the ps one by one and be left with 1 on both sides. At that point we would necessarily have cancelled all the qs—one for each p.

The area of the blown-up triangle is four times that of the original, so the area is 2. But since the six lattice points that we know about will contribute a Pick value of 6/2 − 1 = 2, these are the only possible ones in the blown-up triangle. 2. Soon afterwards things get more complicated. 333 333 3 . . At this point the teacher usually mentions that every fraction has a decimal expansion that either terminates or recurs, and nothing more is said on the matter. That is rather a pity because there is a great deal going on just below the surface.

In order to understand how counting can be related to area, it helps to pinpoint the crucial property that area possesses. The one thing that we really know about area is that if you join two regions together along a common piece of boundary, then the area of the new region is the sum of the areas of the two original ones. If the Pick formula is going to work, it will have to have the same essential property as area does: that it adds up, the same way that area does, when you join polygons together.