10 books like The Art of Logic in an Illogical World

By Eugenia Cheng,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Art of Logic in an Illogical World. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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How Not to Be Wrong

By Jordan Ellenberg,

Book cover of How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

This book is not about computing, but it is relevant in an indirect way. I love this book, since it is written in such an engaging style and illustrates with many examples that math is not a dry subject to be practiced only by mathematicians but helps everyone to solve real-world problems. The book shows how important it is to be precise in describing problems and that applying a little mathematical rigor goes a long way in solving them. Ellenberg describes mathematics as the “extension of common sense by other means.” In a similar way, I view computer science as the extension of problem-solving methods (aka “algorithms”) by other means. 

How Not to Be Wrong

By Jordan Ellenberg,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked How Not to Be Wrong as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Witty, compelling, and just plain fun to read . . ." -Evelyn Lamb, Scientific American

The Freakonomics of math-a math-world superstar unveils the hidden beauty and logic of the world and puts its power in our hands

The math we learn in school can seem like a dull set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In How Not to Be Wrong, Jordan Ellenberg shows us how terribly limiting this view is: Math isn't confined to abstract incidents that never occur in real life, but rather touches everything we do-the whole world is shot through…


Logicomix

By Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos Papadimitriou,

Book cover of Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth

Logicomix is a revelation. It tells the colorful life stories of some incredibly important philosophers and mathematicians of recent times, how they met and how their lives reflect their thoughts about some of the most difficult questions ever posed. The stories are beautifully illustrated with a detail that conveys more than mere words. It feels wondrous how the most abstract ideas can be made comprehensible and captivating when we had only the vaguest notions about what these ideas even meant.

Logicomix

By Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos Papadimitriou,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Logicomix as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This brilliantly illustrated tale of reason, insanity, love and truth recounts the story of Bertrand Russell's life. Raised by his paternal grandparents, young Russell was never told the whereabouts of his parents. Driven by a desire for knowledge of his own history, he attempted to force the world to yield to his yearnings: for truth, clarity and resolve. As he grew older, and increasingly sophisticated as a philosopher and mathematician, Russell strove to create an objective language with which to describe the world - one free of the biases and slippages of the written word. At the same time, he…


Love and Math

By Edward Frenkel,

Book cover of Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality

Love and Math is a mathematical autobiography, seamlessly interweaving an inspiring personal journey with profound mathematical ideas. Born in the Soviet Union, Frenkel aspired to become a professional mathematician, only to see his hopes crushed by entrenched antisemitism at Moscow State University – home to the premier mathematics program in the country. While sitting for the entrance exam, he was confronted by two advanced graduate students who were sent to question him personally and make sure he failed. Rejected but undeterred, Frenkel turned instead to an informal network of top-flight but marginalized Soviet mathematicians, who like him were denied employment in the field they loved. With the end of the Cold War he was invited to Harvard on a fellowship that later turned into a permanent job. In one of the book’s emotional highs, he confronts his old tormentor from Moscow State, who unsuspecting American academics had invited to give…

Love and Math

By Edward Frenkel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Love and Math as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Science BestsellerWhat if you had to take an art class in which you were only taught how to paint a fence? What if you were never shown the paintings of van Gogh and Picasso, weren't even told they existed? Alas, this is how math is taught, and so for most of us it becomes the intellectual equivalent of watching paint dry.In Love and Math , renowned mathematician Edward Frenkel reveals a side of math we've never seen, suffused with all the beauty and elegance of a work of art. In this heartfelt and passionate book, Frenkel…


Infinite Powers

By Steven Strogatz,

Book cover of Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe

That Steven Strogatz, Cornell Professor and longtime New York Times columnist, is unsurpassed as an expositor of mathematics, goes without saying. No one can make the abstract and technical appear simple and intuitive like Strogatz. In Infinite Powers he takes on the Calculus -- the central pillar of modern mathematics that is also the bane of many a high-school student. It is an immensely powerful field, and at its core is a concept that is both counter-intuitive and paradoxical: the infinite.

The roots of the calculus, we learn, go back to the ancient Greeks, whose notions of the infinite were put to powerful mathematical use by Archimedes. Strogatz continues with Galielo’s dynamics and Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, before reaching the turning point: The discovery of the Calculus by Newton and Leibniz. This leads straight to a discussion of differential equations, which are responsible for so much of what makes…

Infinite Powers

By Steven Strogatz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Infinite Powers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From preeminent math personality and author of The Joy of x, a brilliant and endlessly appealing explanation of calculus—how it works and why it makes our lives immeasurably better. 
 
Without calculus, we wouldn’t have cell phones, TV, GPS, or ultrasound. We wouldn’t have unraveled DNA or discovered Neptune or figured out how to put 5,000 songs in your pocket.

Though many of us were scared away from this essential, engrossing subject in high school and college, Steven Strogatz’s brilliantly creative, down-to-earth history shows that calculus is not about complexity; it’s about simplicity. It harnesses an unreal number—infinity—to tackle real-world problems,…


Mathematics for Human Flourishing

By Francis Su,

Book cover of Mathematics for Human Flourishing

This remarkable book is authored by Francis Su, the past president of the Mathematical Association of America. The author describes human flourishing as follows: “a wholeness of being and doing, of realizing one’s potential and helping others do the same, of acting with honour and treating others with dignity.” He explains how human beings, of all ages and ability levels, can experience flourishing through the doing of mathematics.

In each of the final twelve chapters, the author explores a trait of mathematics, how it relates to our journey as humans, and how the development of each trait enables us to flourish: Exploration, Meaning, Play, Beauty, Permanence, Truth, Struggle, Power, Justice, Freedom, Community, Love. As a mathematical researcher and educator, I have experienced these traits first-hand, and recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

Mathematics for Human Flourishing

By Francis Su,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mathematics for Human Flourishing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Mathematics Association of America's 2021 Euler Book Prize, this is an inclusive vision of mathematics-its beauty, its humanity, and its power to build virtues that help us all flourish

"This is perhaps the most important mathematics book of our time. Francis Su shows mathematics is an experience of the mind and, most important, of the heart."-James Tanton, Global Math Project

"A good book is an entertaining read. A great book holds up a mirror that allows us to more clearly see ourselves and the world we live in. Francis Su's Mathematics for Human Flourishing is both a…


Our Days Are Numbered

By Jason I. Brown,

Book cover of Our Days Are Numbered: How Mathematics Orders Our Lives

For decades, the most famous opening chord in rock and roll was an unsolved problem, since no one could reproduce it. But in 2004, Jason Brown, a professor at Dalhousie University, used mathematics to recreate the opening chord of the Beatles hit song, “A Hard Day’s Night”. I remember when newspapers around the world reported on Jason’s findings, as I was at Dalhousie at the time, as one of Jason’s Ph.D. students.

Jason’s Beatles story serves as the final chapter in this wonderful book, a collection of short vignettes about how mathematics relates to every aspect of our lives, including garbage pickup routes, grocery shopping, political polling, and social networks. The book’s thesis is that as we understand mathematics better, our lives become more meaningful. I couldn’t agree more.    

Our Days Are Numbered

By Jason I. Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our Days Are Numbered as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A revealing and entertaining look at the world, as viewed through mathematical eyeglasses.

From the moment our feet touch the floor in the morning until our head hits the pillow, numbers are everywhere. And yet most of us go through each day unaware of the mathematics that shapes our lives.

In fact, many people go through life fearing and avoiding mathematics, making choices that keep it at arm’s length or further. Even basic math — like arithmetic — can seem baffling.

In Our Days Are Numbered, Jason Brown leads the reader through a typical day, on a fascinating journey. He…


The Theory That Would Not Die

By Sharon Bertsch McGrayne,

Book cover of The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes' Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Controversy

The full title of this wonderful book is The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes' Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Controversy. Bayes’ Theorem is a one-line mathematical formula, named after a Scottish church minister, that calculates the updated probability of an event occurring given new information that we receive.  Applications of Bayes’ Theorem are diverse and profound, from recommendation systems to automated translation algorithms to weather prediction.

This well-researched book does a deep dive into the most important characters of mathematical statistics over the past three centuries, and explains how Bayes’ Theorem was used to solve problems that were deemed unsolvable, including cracking the German Enigma Machine during World War II. I teach Bayes’ Theorem in several of my courses, and have found much inspiration in McGrayne’s book.

The Theory That Would Not Die

By Sharon Bertsch McGrayne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Theory That Would Not Die as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice: A vivid account of the generations-long dispute over Bayes' rule, one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of applied mathematics and statistics

"An intellectual romp touching on, among other topics, military ingenuity, the origins of modern epidemiology, and the theological foundation of modern mathematics."-Michael Washburn, Boston Globe

"To have crafted a page-turner out of the history of statistics is an impressive feat. If only lectures at university had been this racy."-David Robson, New Scientist

Bayes' rule appears to be a straightforward, one-line theorem: by updating our initial beliefs with objective new…


Mind and Matter

By John Urschel, Louisa Thomas,

Book cover of Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football

John Urschel is an African-American mathematician specializing in graph theory, who recently completed his Ph.D. in mathematics at MIT. But he is better known for his football career, as a starting offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens. Six of Urschel’s papers were completed while he was still in the National Football League.

Mind and Matter is John Urschel’s memoir, co-authored with his wife Louisa Thomas. Each chapter alternates between football and mathematics, and how his success on the field translated to success in the classroom, and vice-versa. I loved how accessible the book is, for readers of all ages, and I fully agree with the author’s perspective that mathematics gives us a way of making sense of the world, and helping us see past the confusion of everyday life.

Mind and Matter

By John Urschel, Louisa Thomas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mind and Matter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller

John Urschel, mathematician and former offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, tells the story of a life balanced between two passions

For John Urschel, what began as an insatiable appetite for puzzles as a child developed into mastery of the elegant systems and rules of mathematics. By the time he was thirteen, Urschel was auditing a college-level calculus course. But when he joined his high school football team, a new interest began to eclipse the thrill he felt in the classroom. Football challenged Urschel in an entirely different way, and he became addicted to the…


How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass

By Christopher Dicarlo,

Book cover of How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass: A Critical Thinker's Guide to Asking the Right Questions

If there is one book I wish I’d written myself, it is How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass. One of the things I admired most about the people who shaped my education and career path most was their ability to listen carefully and ask critical questions that uncovered even more than what was first expressed. Christopher DiCarlo’s book is a manual to practicing these traits. The book provides all of the tools needed to question beliefs and assumptions held by those who claim to know what they’re talking about, while at the same time providing practical solutions for today’s world of misinformation. The book also convinced me that faulty reasoning can be spotted by asking the right sorts of questions—what better gift to give someone? 

How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass

By Christopher Dicarlo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this witty, incisive guide to critical thinking the author provides you with the tools to allow you to question beliefs and assumptions held by those who claim to know what they're talking about. These days there are many people whom we need to question: politicians, lawyers, doctors, teachers, clergy members, bankers, car salesmen, and your boss. This book will empower you with the ability to spot faulty reasoning and, by asking the right sorts of questions, hold people accountable not only for what they believe but how they behave.

By using this book you'll learn to analyze your own…


Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent

By Wayne C. Booth,

Book cover of Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent

Booth was a professor of English at the University of Chicago and a president of the Modern Language Association. Surprisingly, he wrote this elegant book showing that Cartesian doubt as the basis of science (or of anything else) is silly, not a dogma that anyone can actually live by. Like the other books here, he shows even science to have—or course—a “rhetoric,” that is, “the art of discovering good reasons, finding what really warrants assent because any reasonable person ought to be persuaded by what has been said.”

Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent

By Wayne C. Booth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When should I change my mind? What can I believe and what must I doubt? In this new "philosophy of good reasons" Wayne C. Booth exposes five dogmas of modernism that have too often inhibited efforts to answer these questions. Modern dogmas teach that "you cannot reason about values" and that "the job of thought is to doubt whatever can be doubted," and they leave those who accept them crippled in their efforts to think and talk together about whatever concerns them most. They have willed upon us a "befouled rhetorical climate" in which people are driven to two self-destructive…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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