83 books directly related to math 📚

All 83 math books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Book cover of The Greatest Adventure

The Greatest Adventure

By John Taine

Why this book?

To take a break from his day job as Professor Emeritus of Higher Mathematics at Caltech, Eric Temple Bell (John Taine was his pen name) wrote a series of science fiction novels that dealt, not with mathematics, but largely with biology. Any of these are still quite readable today, and notable for their discussion of biology and related fields when most writers of science fiction were focused on physics and space travel.

The Greatest Adventure deals with mutated dinosaurs in Antarctica, which sounds like something out of a 1950s horror film but which Bell uses as the basis for an…

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The best pre-1935 science fiction novels for modern readers

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Book cover of What Is Mathematics, Really?

What Is Mathematics, Really?

By Reuben Hersh

Why this book?

Reuben Hersh is responsible for a revolution in the way we look at mathematics. His main idea is very simple: mathematics is something that is created by human beings. Isn’t that obvious, you say? Not if you believe that mathematics is there even before life itself, that it is built into the nature of reality in some way. In philosophy, this view is called Platonism. Hersh had the radical but obvious idea that if we want to understand what mathematics is we should look at what mathematicians actually do when they create mathematics. Like all great ideas it can be…

From the list:

The best books on thinking, creativity, and mathematics

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Book cover of The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us about Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life

The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us about Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life

By Alison Gopnik

Why this book?

This is another book about the new research into how babies think. I am excited about this research because of its implications for how people learn mathematics and how researchers create math. This book taught me something important about how we all think. Gopnik distinguishes between what she calls flashlight consciousness and lantern consciousness. Flashlight is the way adults think. You focus on one thing at a time and give it your full attention. But babies, she claims, use their minds differently. Their lantern consciousness is unfocused and is aware of the big picture all at once.  

So what happens…

From the list:

The best books on thinking, creativity, and mathematics

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Book cover of Alex Through the Looking-Glass

Alex Through the Looking-Glass

By Alex Bellos

Why this book?

This is a sequel to Alex Bellos's bestseller Alex's Adventures in Numberland, but more focused on applications of mathematics to the real world, especially through physics. Many of these were known to me, particularly when they involved calculus, but I greatly enjoyed Alex's distinctive and novel way of putting across sophisticated ideas, in part by interspersing them with personal interviews with mathematicians of all kinds.  

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The best books on mathematics for the general reader

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Book cover of Teaching and Learning Algebra

Teaching and Learning Algebra

By Doug French

Why this book?

This may seem an odd choice, but as a maths popularizer I need to know all that I can about why some people find the main elements of the subject so difficult. I found Doug French's book exceptionally helpful in this respect, even though it is aimed principally at high school teachers. This is partly because he focuses throughout on the most important mathematical ideas and difficulties. Moreover, the scope is wider than the title suggests, for he also ventures imaginatively into both geometry and calculus.

From the list:

The best books on mathematics for the general reader

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Book cover of Man Must Measure: The Wonderful World of Mathematics

Man Must Measure: The Wonderful World of Mathematics

By Lancelot Hogben, Andre, Charles Keeping, Kenneth Symonds, Marjorie Saynor

Why this book?

This book is out of print, but I include it in the hope that some public-spirited publisher may be persuaded to reissue this large-format picture book. It was the first book on mathematics that I read at about the age of ten and it contained precisely what I needed to show me that this was a subject with a history and a use. (Nor am I the only mathematician to have this experience.)

As an adult, I found the same author’s Mathematics for the Million a bit crass and utilitarian but I pardon him everything for a wonderful first experience.

From the list:

The best books about the mathematical life

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Book cover of Great Circles: The Transits of Mathematics and Poetry

Great Circles: The Transits of Mathematics and Poetry

By Emily Rolfe Grosholz

Why this book?

Great Circles is a unique tale of the life and works of mathematicians, scientists, philosophers, poets, and other literary figures. It is collections of circles of thoughts and implications that return on themselves as if they are gravitationally attached to some core red dwarf of universal meaning.  

I loved reading this book. One moment I was into the math, and in the next, I was immersed in a relevant poem or was personality attached to some math or a philosophical thought about a connection of a poem with the math. It was a ride more than a read. It is…

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The best books of narrative merit in mathematics and science

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Book cover of Mathematics for Human Flourishing

Mathematics for Human Flourishing

By Francis Su

Why this book?

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…

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The best books on mathematics and life

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

Our Days Are Numbered: How Mathematics Orders Our Lives

By Jason I. Brown

Why this book?

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…

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The best books on mathematics and life

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Book cover of Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

By Edwin A. Abbott

Why this book?

The idea of a fourth dimension grabbed the public’s attention in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Before Minkowski and Einstein popularized time as the fourth dimension, people were enthralled by the mind-expanding idea of a possible fourth physical dimension perpendicular to our three. Edwin Abbott was one of the first authors to write about this idea for a popular audience. His 1884 novella Flatland beautifully illustrates by analogy how to view higher dimensions by telling the story of two-dimensional figures (polygons and circles) encountering a being who lives in the third dimension. Flatland is also a satirical take…

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The best books for mathematics enthusiasts

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Book cover of Modern Mathematical Statistics with Applications

Modern Mathematical Statistics with Applications

By Jay L. DeVore, Kenneth N. Berk

Why this book?

One of my favorite professors, Gretchen Martinet, used this to teach a course called “Mathematical Statistics” when I was at the University of Virginia. It is an extremely profound course full of dense but fundamental mathematical proofs in classical statistics. 

You will learn why the formula for the normal distribution is the way it is, why the sum of squares appears everywhere in statistics, and how to fit a linear regression by hand. In the same way calculus elevates our understanding of rates of changes, the book elevates your understanding of samples, averages, and distributions. Quant trading requires an intuitive…

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The best mathematics books for quant finance

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Book cover of How to Think Like a Mathematician

How to Think Like a Mathematician

By Kevin Houston

Why this book?

Many undergraduate mathematics books – even those aimed at new students – are dense, technical, and difficult to read at any sort of speed. This is a natural feature of books in a deductive science, but it can be very discouraging, even for dedicated students. Houston’s book covers many ideas useful at the transition to proof-based mathematics, and he has worked extensively and attentively with students at that stage. Consequently, his book maintains high mathematical integrity and has lots of useful exercises while also being an unusually friendly read.

From the list:

The best books for studying undergraduate mathematics

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Book cover of Mathematical Writing

Mathematical Writing

By Franco Vivaldi

Why this book?

Mathematics requires accurate calculation, and students sometimes think that getting the right answer is enough. But mathematics is also about valid logical arguments, and the demand for clear communication increases through an undergraduate degree. Students, therefore, need to learn to write professionally, with attention to general issues like good grammar, and mathematics-specific issues like accuracy in notation, precision in logical language, and structure in extended arguments. Vivaldi’s book has a great many examples and exercises, and students could benefit from studying it systematically or from dipping into it occasionally and reflecting on small ways to improve.

From the list:

The best books for studying undergraduate mathematics

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Book cover of Cosmos

Cosmos

By Carl Sagan

Why this book?

I read Cosmos when I was young and it inspired the love of science I still carry today. I found Sagan’s musings about the pale blue dot mesmerizing, and the science was thrilling. I ended up going to Space Camp when I was 14 and Governor’s School for Physics when I was 16 to further my scientific knowledge. When I wrote A Paradox of Fates, I used some of the science I learned in Governor’s School to explain time travel, which has always been a fascinating subject to me.

From the list:

The best books for fellow science dorks

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

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

By Jordan Ellenberg

Why this book?

The world is a complicated place, and it is often difficult to see it clearly. Mathematical tools like logic and proofs let us understand it better. This popular book is a more modern and less technical primer in thinking about the world through a mathematical lens. 

For many readers, it will open the eyes as to why much of that math you learned in school was there in the first place, and refresh your thinking about it. Statistical reasoning is particularly important in today’s data-driven world, and this book will help you realize when someone is lying to you through…

From the list:

The best books on mathematical and algorithmic thinking

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

Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality

By Edward Frenkel

Why this book?

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…

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The best books on the power and wonder of mathematics

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Book cover of The Origin of Concepts

The Origin of Concepts

By Susan Carey

Why this book?

I’m interested in how mathematicians create mathematics but this book made me realize that learning mathematics is also a form of creativity. Each of us has created our understanding of mathematics as we were growing up. We are all creative!  

What is amazing about this book is that even children as young as six months possess rudimentary mathematical concepts, in particular, the concept of number. (Actually, Carey shows children have two distinct ways of thinking about numbers). The concept of number is built-in. That’s amazing to me! The mastery of counting numbers, 1,2,3,… is a great creative leap in the…

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The best books on thinking, creativity, and mathematics

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Book cover of Essential Poker Math: Fundamental No Limit Hold'em Mathematics You Need To Know

Essential Poker Math: Fundamental No Limit Hold'em Mathematics You Need To Know

By Alton Hardin

Why this book?

This book is one of the best-selling poker books of the modern era despite the author not being a household name. It is a brilliant and dense primer on poker math with the amateur in mind. Other poker math books have arguably been written with a more expert tone, but this one is ideal for a beginner.
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The best books every poker player needs to read

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Book cover of The Elements of Statistical Learning: Data Mining, Inference, and Prediction

The Elements of Statistical Learning: Data Mining, Inference, and Prediction

By Trevor Hastie, Robert Tibshirani, Jerome Friedman

Why this book?

This book might as well be called Introduction to machine learning, and it is probably one of the only books truly deserving of the title. Did you know neural networks have been used for decades to scan checks at the bank? They are called Boltzman Machine. Have you ever heard of how decision trees were used in old-school data mining? You could only get them from proprietary software packages from the early 2000s.

In quant trading, you will constantly face compute power constraints, so it is invaluable to understand the mathematical foundations of the most old-school machine learning methods…

From the list:

The best mathematics books for quant finance

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Book cover of The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics

The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics

By Norton Juster

Why this book?

Picking up this short picture book, I expected a dose of Phantom Toolbooth-esque wordplay. Not at all. This five-minute love story, about a line yearning for a dot, somehow enlarges into a meditation on geometric structure itself. From such a brief book, I didn’t expect new insights about how simple geometry underlies our most intricate thinking—but then again, that’s what delightful visuals will do for you.

From the list:

The best math books with genuinely good drawings

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Book cover of Proofs and Refutations

Proofs and Refutations

By Imre Lakatos

Why this book?

Lots of people have a priori ideas about what mathematics is all about but Lakatos had the brilliant idea of looking at what actually happened. His book is all about one famous theorem: “for all regular polyhedra, V – E + F =2, where V is the number of vertices, E is the number of edges, and F is the number of faces.  Think of a cube where V=8, E = 12, F = 6.  

We tend to think that mathematics proceeds from a well-defined hypothesis to conclusion. But that is only the finishing step. Along the way the definitions…

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The best books on thinking, creativity, and mathematics

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Book cover of Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension

Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension

By Matt Parker

Why this book?

I have always liked the classical geometry of triangles and circles, but Matt Parker's book helped me go way beyond that and broaden my whole outlook. And the attractively hand-drawn diagrams and zany humour just added to the whole experience. After all, how many maths authors do you know who decide to build a computer out of 10,000 dominoes, just to calculate 6 + 4? 

From the list:

The best books on mathematics for the general reader

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Book cover of Mathematics for the Million: How to Master the Magic of Numbers

Mathematics for the Million: How to Master the Magic of Numbers

By Lancelot Hogben

Why this book?

This book has haunted me for years. For what is it, exactly, that gives it such enduring popularity? After all, it was first published in 1936, yet is still in print today. In his autobiography, Hogben remarks on the importance of eye-catching illustrations but speculates that its success may instead be because the book contains – most unusually for a 'popular' work – exercises and answers, making it more suitable for self-teaching. Whatever the real answer, his book must surely have something to teach anyone – like myself – who aspires to bring mainstream mathematics to life for the general…

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The best books on mathematics for the general reader

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Book cover of How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method

How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method

By George Polya

Why this book?

Polya was a great mathematician who knew what counted (after all, he made major contributions to combinatorics, the mathematics of counting). He thought hard about what he was doing when working on problems in mathematics, developing a mental process that lead to creative breakthroughs and solutions. Polya’s problem-solving method is broadly applicable to domains other than mathematics, and this book features many nice puzzles to improve your thinking.

Algorithm design is challenging because it often requires flashes of sudden insight which seem to come out of the blue. But there is a way of thinking about problems that make such…

From the list:

The best books on mathematical and algorithmic thinking

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Book cover of The Magic of Math: Solving for X and Figuring Out Why

The Magic of Math: Solving for X and Figuring Out Why

By Arthur Benjamin

Why this book?

Have you ever been to a mathematics lecture where the speaker wore a tuxedo and baffled the audience with his mystifying knowledge of numbers? Well, I have and the speaker was Arthur Benjamin, who combined mathematics and magic. He even displayed this knowledge with Stephen Colbert on his earlier show The Colbert Report. It is our good fortune that he describes much of this mathematical wizardry in this fascinating book. 

From the list:

The best books to read if you want to be a mathematician

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Book cover of The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity

The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity

By Steven Strogatz

Why this book?

There are books that simply tell us (or perhaps remind us) how mathematics can be interesting and fun. This delightful book is one of the best, describing how mathematics can be amazing, surprising, and beautiful, all at the same time. While mathematics has helped people accomplish so many things that we may have never dreamed of, this book shows us that mathematics can be popular as well. 

From the list:

The best books to read if you want to be a mathematician

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Book cover of Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction

Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction

By David Macaulay

Why this book?

We love all of David Macauley’s books. He uses hand-drawn black-and-white illustrations to describe the enormous effort and complicated processes involved in building some of the most magnificent structures in the world, from cathedrals to castles to pyramids. Cathedral was his first, and we think the best. Although intended for young readers, there are many builders, engineers, and architects that find wonder in Macauley’s work. 

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The best hand-illustrated books on building

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Book cover of Adventures of a Mathematician

Adventures of a Mathematician

By S. M. Ulam

Why this book?

Ulam was a Polish mathematical prodigy, publishing significant mathematics by the time he was 20. He was part of the rich Polish math community centered around Stefan Banach. Unlike most, he was heading to the United States in 1939 (with his younger brother) when Germany invaded Poland. All the rest of his family were murdered by the Nazis. He on the other hand ended up in Los Alamos, providing critical help on the Manhattan Project. Later in life, he wrote this book, his autobiography. Based on his history, one could well think that it would be a book full of…

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The best books for mathematical inspiration

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Book cover of Gamma: Exploring Euler's Constant

Gamma: Exploring Euler's Constant

By Julian Havil

Why this book?

Gamma is a number, though little understood. Even its most basic properties are still unknown. We don’t even know if it is a rational number (a ratio of integers). This wonderful book explains why anyone would care. While it does require some mathematical background, anyone who has had calculus and is willing to read the book with a notepad and pen next to them in order to check and explore the formulas on their own will come away with a true appreciation of gamma and its impact. 

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The best books for mathematical inspiration

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Book cover of Descartes' Dream: The World According to Mathematics (Dover Books on Mathematics)

Descartes' Dream: The World According to Mathematics (Dover Books on Mathematics)

By Philip J. Davis, Reuben Hersh

Why this book?

Mathematicians are constantly baffled by the public’s lack of awareness, not just of what mathematics does, but what it is. Today’s technological society functions only because of a vast range of mathematical concepts, techniques, and discoveries, which go far beyond elementary arithmetic and algebra. This was one of the first books to tackle these misunderstandings head on. It does so by examining not just the math and what it’s used for, but the social structures, the ‘conditions of civilization’ that have brought us to this curious state: utterly dependent on math, almost universally unaware that we are. 

From the list:

The best books to find out why math isn’t what you think

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Book cover of Riddles in Mathematics: A Book of Paradoxes

Riddles in Mathematics: A Book of Paradoxes

By Eugene P. Northrop

Why this book?

I was given this book when I was about 15, and devoured it. It is an eclectic collection of mathematical paradoxes, fallacies, and curiosities so strange that they seem impossible. Mathematical magic tricks, a proof that all numbers are equal, a proof that all triangles are isosceles, a curve whose length is infinite but whose area is finite, a curve that crosses itself at every point, a curve that fills the interior of a square. Infinities that are bigger than other infinities. The Saint Petersburg Paradox in probability, a calculation that you should pay the bank an infinite amount of…

From the list:

The best books to find out why math isn’t what you think

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Book cover of Wonders Beyond Numbers: A Brief History of All Things Mathematical

Wonders Beyond Numbers: A Brief History of All Things Mathematical

By Johnny Ball

Why this book?

One of the friendliest routes into mathematics, for many people, is its history. In math, unlike many sciences, ideas last indefinitely. Pythagoras’s Theorem is about 4,000 years old, understood in ancient Babylon a thousand years before Pythagoras was born. It was true then, and it is still true today. The history of math tells of the construction of a towering edifice, with each new level built on top of the previous ones. There are many histories of mathematics, but none quite like this one. The author is a much-loved English TV personality, famous for his enthusiasm for math and his…

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The best books to find out why math isn’t what you think

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Book cover of The Fractal Murders

The Fractal Murders

By Mark Cohen

Why this book?

This book loves to pretend to be a Raymond Chandler type thriller with a hard-boiled detective, but what might be a stereotype is offset by the detective's past and his personal struggle with depression, as well as a romantic interest in his client, an attractive female mathematician who hires him to figure out why three different mathematicians she contacted about the exact same topic have all died recently.  

Pieces are gathered and put together bit by bit to form a well-balanced mystery complete with false leads and a twist at the end. What makes this novel quite unique is the…

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The best mathematical mystery novels

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Book cover of The Colossal Book of Mathematics: Classic Puzzles, Paradoxes, and Problems

The Colossal Book of Mathematics: Classic Puzzles, Paradoxes, and Problems

By Martin Gardner

Why this book?

They say that Plato was not a mathematician but was a maker of mathematicians. The same could be said of Martin Gardner, a prolific author who wrote, among many other things, the “Mathematical Games” column for Scientific American for a quarter of a century. Although all his books are excellent, The Colossal Book of Mathematics is a great entry point to Gardner’s oeuvre. It consists of what Gardner viewed as his 50 best Scientific American columns along with addenda containing updated material on each topic. With topics like topology, geometry, recreational mathematics, the infinite, and probability, each article is an…

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The best books for mathematics enthusiasts

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Book cover of Probability: The Science of Uncertainty: With Applications to Investments, Insurance, and Engineering

Probability: The Science of Uncertainty: With Applications to Investments, Insurance, and Engineering

By Michael A. Bean

Why this book?

Everyone knows what probability is, and we all understand how a coin flip works, but not everyone can explain the optimal betting strategies for a roulette table. We don’t study probability to understand the likelihood of events. We study probability to understand the expected outcomes of business processes that depend on those events.

In other words, this book won’t just teach you about probabilities, it will teach you about business strategies associated with those probabilities. It will help you answer a question like: How do I maximize the profit on this life insurance policy, given this set of survival probabilities?…

From the list:

The best mathematics books for quant finance

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Book cover of Introduction to Modern Nonparametric Statistics

Introduction to Modern Nonparametric Statistics

By James J. Higgins

Why this book?

This is one of my favorite underappreciated statistics books of all time. Non-parametric statistics can be otherwise described as statistics without assumptions. The entire goal of this field of study is to prove X is greater than Y without making any assumptions about the underlying distributions of X or Y. The methods are different, and they require more data than other methods, but the learning journey is invaluable.

I personally believe that modern machine learning is simply the modeling section of the school of non-parametric statistics. Working through this book will give you a much deeper understanding of why…

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The best mathematics books for quant finance

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Book cover of Mathematics for Machine Learning

Mathematics for Machine Learning

By Marc Peter Deisenroth, A. Aldo Faisal, Cheng Soon Ong

Why this book?

The book is a well-curated collection of the essential mathematical concepts that form ML. You may experience a cultural shock jumping to this book from the previous one, because the writing in this book is a bit formal. However, it is the missing but necessary piece for building solid foundations for practical ML. You will find it more valuable combining the intuition behind ML that you gained previously. And the explanations in the book are succinct and from the ML perspectives. For instance, partial derivatives are explained in terms of neural network weight optimization. I wish the concepts in Linear…

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The best books about machine learning for beginners

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Book cover of How to Read and Do Proofs

How to Read and Do Proofs

By Daniel Solow

Why this book?

This book provides a systematic account of how to understand and structure mathematical proofs. Its approach is almost entirely syntactic, which is the opposite of how I naturally think – I tend to generate arguments based on examples, diagrams, and conceptual understanding. But that difference, for me, is precisely what makes this book so valuable. Solow gives a no-nonsense, practical, almost algorithmic approach to interpreting logical language and to tackling the associated reasoning. His book thereby provides the best answer I know of to the “How do I start?” problem so often encountered when students begin constructing proofs.  

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The best books for studying undergraduate mathematics

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Book cover of Understanding How We Learn: A Visual Guide

Understanding How We Learn: A Visual Guide

By Yana Weinstein, Megan Sumeracki, Oliver Caviglioli

Why this book?

Research in cognitive psychology has revealed a lot about human learning and how to make it more effective. Most mathematics students – and indeed their professors – know very little about this research or how to apply it. Weinstein and Sumeracki’s book explains how psychologists generate evidence on learning, gives a basic account of human cognitive processing, explains some strategies for effective learning, and gives tips for applying them. It is not about mathematics and it certainly will not make advanced mathematics simple, but I think that we would all have an easier time if we were more aware of…

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The best books for studying undergraduate mathematics

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Book cover of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

By David Allen

Why this book?

This is a classic and for good reason. I love the idea of putting each thing you have to do on its own piece of paper because once you do, you can organize and manage everything on your plate. You can triage and prioritize what needs to happen when, in any area of your life. And the “Someday/Maybe” file is a great way of retaining ideas and plans that aren’t a priority right now.

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The best books to boost your productivity

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Book cover of Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

By Douglas R. Hofstadter

Why this book?

This is the book that enticed many of my colleagues into working on Artificial Intelligence. A polymath's exploration into fundamental and beautiful ideas in mathematics, music, and the mind. I was lucky enough to spend some time working in the same lab as Hoftstadter, a polymath who draws together art, science, and philosophy in this thought-provoking exploration of three great minds.
From the list:

The best books about artificial intelligence (and what they tell us about human intelligence)

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Book cover of Men of Mathematics

Men of Mathematics

By E.T. Bell

Why this book?

First published in 1937, this lovely book is a true classic. In two volumes Bell brings to life 30 or so mathematicians, from Archimedes to Cantor. When first reading the book many years ago I had remembered some of the names from school and college, but only as labels to theorems or equations, and I felt taken into a delightful new realm of knowledge – I could now think of Fermat, Lagrange, Gauss, and Riemann as people. And I began to want to know more about the scientists whose names I had heard in school and college. Bell’s book had…

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The best science books to enjoy and to get you thinking

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Book cover of The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure

The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure

By Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Rotraut Susanne Berner, Michael Henry Heim

Why this book?

Among my children’s bedtime stories The Number Devil was a favourite. It’s about a boy who finds his school maths lesson dull and pointless. One night in his dreams he gets visited by the Number Devil, who introduces him to the astonishing patterns to be found in numbers. By making the lead character a maths-sceptic, the author carries the reader along so that we are all drawn into the hidden beauty of mathematics. The book has wonderful colour illustrations, which adds to its charm. Parents love it too.

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The best math(s) books for people who don’t read math(s) books

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Book cover of Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

By Howard E. Gardner

Why this book?

Hailed by educators throughout the world, Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences has been applied to hundreds of classrooms and schools. It shatters the theory that being smart is only measured by math and English skills. Through scientific and unquestionable documented historical research. Goodbye to SATs. Now we can acknowledge that geniuses can also be measured by linguistics, music, mathematical, spatial, body, and personal intelligence. A politician, athlete, architect, dancer, or musician can be brilliant in what they do but may not be able to write, speak, or do mathematics. We have known this to be our experience but now…

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The best books on music inspiration

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Book cover of By Hound & Eye: A Plain & Easy Guide to Designing Furniture with No Further Trouble

By Hound & Eye: A Plain & Easy Guide to Designing Furniture with No Further Trouble

By George Walker, Jim Tolpin, Andrea Love

Why this book?

Forget the tape measure. Leave the fractions, decimals, and mathematics behind. Long before the tape measure was a universal adornment on the woodworker’s belt, people designed furniture, houses, bridges, and cathedrals using nothing more than simple whole number ratios. This slender tome will show you how to do just that and will entertain you along the way. 

From the list:

The best books for woodworkers to expand their horizons

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Book cover of Nature's Chaos

Nature's Chaos

By James Gleick, Eliot Porter

Why this book?

I admire James Gleick’s Chaos. Who doesn’t? It’s a landmark book, a masterpiece of science writing. But let’s be real: it’s not exactly a beach read, is it? If Chaos is a complex aged wine, then this book is a simple autumn cider: a photographic collage of nature’s fractals, sweetened with a splash of Gleick’s lyrical prose.

From the list:

The best math books with genuinely good drawings

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Book cover of Anno's Math Games III

Anno's Math Games III

By Mitsumasa Anno

Why this book?

I stumbled on this in a used bookstore. What a find! The old-school, kid-friendly illustrations lead swiftly from simple beginnings (“What happens when you stretch a painting?”) to the depths of undergraduate topology. I haven’t used this in the classroom yet, but honestly, I could imagine busting it out with anyone from first-graders to first-year PhD candidates.

From the list:

The best math books with genuinely good drawings

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Book cover of The Palliative Society: Pain Today

The Palliative Society: Pain Today

By Byung-Chul Han, Daniel Steuer

Why this book?

It’s a little weird that this book should find a place on my list. It’s a book about how society has become resistant to anything that is difficult and painful and the kinds of people that we have become as a result. But mathematics is difficult! To understand mathematics you have to think hard, sometimes for a long time. Moreover understanding something hard is discontinuous, it requires a leap to a new way of thinking. You have to start with a problem and this problem might be an ambiguity or a contradiction. A is true and B is true but…

From the list:

The best books on thinking, creativity, and mathematics

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Book cover of Makers of Mathematics

Makers of Mathematics

By Stuart Hollingdale

Why this book?

One way of enlivening any presentation of mathematics is by including some history of the subject, but this only really works if there is some serious scholarship behind it. I especially like Hollingdale's book, partly because of the concise writing style, and partly because of the unusually good balance between history and mathematics itself. The calculus, in all its various forms, with some aspects going right back to the Ancient Greeks, is treated especially well.

From the list:

The best books on mathematics for the general reader

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Book cover of Why Beauty Is Truth: A History of Symmetry

Why Beauty Is Truth: A History of Symmetry

By Ian Stewart

Why this book?

This book is a brilliant interweaving of politics, history, and intrigue, with characters living ordinary lives, described in the spirit of a Russian novel. With one story threading into another, the book moves us forwards. We fly over the tall mountains, misty valleys, and green fields of current abstract maths and fundamental physics to witness the true beauties of truth. And in the end, Stewart confesses: “No one could have predicted that a pedantic question about equations could reveal the deep structure of the physical world, but that is exactly what's happened.”

As with many of Stewart’s books, Why Beauty…

From the list:

The best books of narrative merit in mathematics and science

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Book cover of Ten, Nine, Eight

Ten, Nine, Eight

By Molly Bang

Why this book?

This classic book, in board book form or paperback, is spare of words with bold pictures. A red carpet and green walls are set against a child’s bright yellow gown. A tender story mixes in elementary math, offering the charm of counting backwards. Soothing for bedtime, it’s one of my favorite gifts for the very youngest.

From the list:

The best books for kids starring math, bugs and strong girls

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Book cover of The Taming of Chance

The Taming of Chance

By Ian Hacking

Why this book?

Are you stuck on a single sentence that keeps expanding but goes nowhere? Then tame it by cutting it down and finishing it off now. Ian Hacking is the master of the subject-verb-predicate sentence in historical writing. And this book, in addition to being a model of stylistic clarity, changes how we think about modernity, mathematics, danger, and risk. You’ll never be afraid of being clear again.

From the list:

The best books against writers’ block

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Book cover of Journey Through Genius: The Great Theorems of Mathematics

Journey Through Genius: The Great Theorems of Mathematics

By William Dunham

Why this book?

It is fair to say that many people—even those who loved mathematics as students—view mathematics as having always existed. The idea that definitions and theorems that fill our school textbooks were created or discovered by human beings is something that has never crossed their mind. In fact, mathematics has a long, fascinating, and rich history, and William Dunham’s Journey Through Genius is a perfect introduction to the topic. Dunham expertly writes about the history of topics like geometry, number theory, set theory, and calculus in a way that is entertaining, understandable, and rigorous. After finishing Journey Through Genius, readers…

From the list:

The best books for mathematics enthusiasts

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Book cover of The Housekeeper and the Professor

The Housekeeper and the Professor

By Yoko Ogawa

Why this book?

This is the tender and intriguing story of a brilliant math professor with a peculiar problem--ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory. The other main character is a young Housekeeper, with a ten-year-old son, who is hired to care for him. Each day, the characters are reintroduced to one another, while the Professor’s long-term memories open up new directions for them all, creating close bonds and a strange familiar unit. It’s a simple story but it has remained with me for some reason – perhaps because memory is so key to…

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The best books about memory and forgetting

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Book cover of Computer Vision: Models, Learning, and Inference

Computer Vision: Models, Learning, and Inference

By Simon J. D. Prince

Why this book?

This fine book is about learning the relationships between what is seen in an image, and what is known about the world. It’s a counterpart to our book on feature extraction and it shows you what can be achieved with the features. It’s not for those who shy from maths, as is the case for all of the books here. So that you can build the techniques, Simon’s book also includes a wide variety of algorithms to help you on your way.

From the list:

The best books on computer vision from 40-year veteran professor who wrote one

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

Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe

By Steven Strogatz

Why this book?

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…

From the list:

The best books on the power and wonder of mathematics

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Book cover of The Art of Logic in an Illogical World

The Art of Logic in an Illogical World

By Eugenia Cheng

Why this book?

The author explains the importance of abstraction in logic, demonstrating its three main components: paths made of long chains of logic, packages made of a collection of concepts structured into a new compound unit, and pivots to build bridges to previously disconnected places.

Eugenia Cheng does an excellent job of abstracting principles of logic to better understand challenging real-world societal issues such as affirmative action and cancer screening. I found it quite compelling to understand how and why she came to her positions on various issues, through her axiom that "avoiding false negatives is more important than avoiding false positives."…

From the list:

The best books on mathematics and life

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Book cover of Principles of Statistical Inference

Principles of Statistical Inference

By D.R. Cox

Why this book?

This is a deep and beautifully elegant overview of the ideas underlying statistical inference. It is the finest concise outline I know of the foundations, dealing with the key concepts and ideas in an accessible way. Written by one of the leading creators of modern statistics, without unnecessary mathematics or superfluous detail it includes a balanced description of the fundamentals of distinct schools of thought, such as Bayesian and frequentist schools. The book did not exist when I started learning statistics, but I am certain I would have understood the discipline’s subtleties much sooner if it had.

From the list:

The best books on statistics from a statistician

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Book cover of Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel

Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel

By Rebecca Goldstein

Why this book?

Gödel (1906-1978) is, like Newton, an unpromising subject for biography. He was antisocial and mentally unstable. His obsessive fear of being poisoned led eventually to him starving himself to death. 

Rebecca Goldstein is a professor of philosophy with a deep interest in logic and the foundations of mathematical truth – the applecart that Gödel overturned in 1931 with his tremendous paper on the incompleteness of axiomatic systems. She is also an experienced novelist. This combination makes her just the right person to construct a gripping story out of Gödel’s weirdness and world-shaking importance.

From the list:

The best mathematical biography books

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Book cover of The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth

By Paul Hoffman

Why this book?

I well remember when Erdos came to MIT to visit my wonderful friend Gian-Carlo Rota. He traveled without money and without a place to stay. He depended entirely on friends. What he offered in return was something of much greater value: his ideas. A mathematician searches everywhere for the right problems to work on – not easy, not random, but opening a door from what we know to what we don't know. Erdos gave that ideal gift to his friends. If you wrote a paper with him, your Erdos number is 1.  

From the list:

The best books about mathematicians and their lives

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Book cover of Origami, Eleusis, and the Soma Cube: Martin Gardner's Mathematical Diversions

Origami, Eleusis, and the Soma Cube: Martin Gardner's Mathematical Diversions

By Martin Gardner

Why this book?

The Scientific American columns of Martin Gardner ran for 24 years and were read by amateurs, semi-amateurs, professionals, and major mathematicians (Conway, Knuth, Diaconis...). It was the interaction with this audience (recorded in addenda) which gave these essays their special quality and will give the interested outsider a real feel for what interests mathematicians. The collected columns are being reissued by the AMA and CUP but my view that anything by Martin Gardner is worth reading is reflected in my personal library.
From the list:

The best books about the mathematical life

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Book cover of The Best of All Possible Worlds: Mathematics and Destiny

The Best of All Possible Worlds: Mathematics and Destiny

By Ivar Ekeland

Why this book?

Ekeland’s book is an entwinement of philosophical views of scientists with metaphysics dealing with nature’s directives. It’s an embroidery of lively anecdotes involving illustrious individuals and great historical moments of human decisions. We go through the Peloponnesian Wars, Venetian concessions to the Hapsburg emperor Maximilian, Darwin’s voyage to the Galapagos, and other enriching accounts. His explanations are clear, elegant, fluid, exhilarating, and suspenseful, reminding me of the effortless style of Richard Feynman. While reading, I felt compelled by a force of nature and purpose to learn about the best of all possible worlds.   

From the list:

The best books of narrative merit in mathematics and science

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Book cover of Number: The Language of Science

Number: The Language of Science

By Tobias Dantzig

Why this book?

More than any other, this book influenced me most about wanting to study mathematics. Of course, I was young at the time and strongly partial to Einstein’s remark, “This is beyond doubt the most interesting book on the evolution of mathematics which has ever fallen into my hands.” Many years later, when I exhaustively tried to find the book in any bookstore I passed, it was out of print. So I suggested it to my publisher, who immediately acquired the rights and republished it under my editing guidelines. It is the quintessential lure into mathematics for readers of any age.   

From the list:

The best books of narrative merit in mathematics and science

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

By Sharon Bertsch McGrayne

Why this book?

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…

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The best books on mathematics and life

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

Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football

By John Urschel, Louisa Thomas

Why this book?

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…

From the list:

The best books on mathematics and life

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Book cover of Prime Obsession: Berhhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics

Prime Obsession: Berhhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics

By John Derbyshire

Why this book?

Most mathematicians believe that the Riemann Hypothesis is the most important open question in mathematics, including me. But it is almost impossible to explain why this is such a central concern. This book is one of the attempts to explain to the non-mathematician why the Riemann Hypothesis is so important. As a partial spoiler alert, it has to do with the nature of prime numbers, which in part explains the title. It is not a book to read in one sitting, but it with a little work is great for seeing, at least in part, the big picture.

From the list:

The best books for mathematical inspiration

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Book cover of Four Colors Suffice: How the Map Problem Was Solved

Four Colors Suffice: How the Map Problem Was Solved

By Robin J. Wilson

Why this book?

The Four Color Problem was one of the most baffling questions in mathematics for over 120 years. First posed in 1852, it asks whether every map can be colored with four colors, or fewer, so that regions adjacent along a boundary have different colors. The answer (yes) was finally obtained in 1976, with massive computer assistance. This method was initially controversial, but the result is now firmly established. This highly readable account, with full-color illustrations, opens up the history and the personalities who tackled this topological enigma, as well as making the mathematics comprehensible. The path to the final solution…

From the list:

The best books to find out why math isn’t what you think

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Book cover of The Order of Forms: Realism, Formalism, and Social Space

The Order of Forms: Realism, Formalism, and Social Space

By Anna Kornbluh

Why this book?

Kornbluh’s book is an incredible revelation. It shows that psychoanalysis provides an insistence on a formal interpretation that allows it to have a privileged critical position relative to capitalism. By showing capitalism’s formal impasses, psychoanalysis provides the perfect supplement to a Marxist critique and opens up possibilities for envisioning a non-capitalist future. The book uses realist fiction as a way to envision the formal critique of capitalism and really makes one want to read the books under discussion. I have taught this book to students, and they love it more than any other I’ve ever used. 

From the list:

The best books on psychoanalysis and capitalism

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Book cover of The Kid Who Named Pluto

The Kid Who Named Pluto

By Marc McCutcheon, Jon Cannell

Why this book?

I didn’t want to leave older children out of this list. This book would make a fantastic gift for a child who loves science but considers themselves “too old” for picture books. This beautifully illustrated chapter book features children who followed their curiosities and questions to real discoveries that helped the world! A very inspiring read.

From the list:

The best children’s books about math and science

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Book cover of Einstein's Dreams

Einstein's Dreams

By Alan Lightman

Why this book?

An enthralling, fictional description of a young scientist (Einstein) and his dreams/thoughts about space, time, relativity, and the nature of reality. The book fictionalizes Einstein’s dreams in 1905, his “Annus Mirabilis” (“Miracle Year”), in which he wrote four fundamental papers, including one on his theory of Special Relativity. While this is a work of fiction, the physics concepts are beautifully explained.

From the list:

The best books on science, mathematics, and philosophy

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Book cover of Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth

Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth

By Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos Papadimitriou

Why this book?

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.
From the list:

The best graphic novels that explain things that matter

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Book cover of A History of Pi

A History of Pi

By Petr Beckmann

Why this book?

The number Pi, of course, has no history; like any other number, it is what it is and exists outside of time and space. But the human understanding of Pi has a rich history indeed, beginning with the discovery that the circumference of a circle is more than three times, but less than four times, its radius. The centuries brought better estimates, better ways of discovering new estimates, the discovery that Pi is irrational, the recognition that it has a habit of popping up in areas of mathematics that appear to have nothing to do with circles, and a slew…

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The best books on the biggest questions

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Book cover of Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum

Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum

By Leonard Susskind, Art Friedman

Why this book?

Are you still here? Good. Because by now you are probably reading to tackle some university-level courses in quantum physics, right? Well, with your background in pop quantum physics all you need to get there is a little more abstraction. So, if you have the stomach for a bit of mathematics, Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum by Leonard Susskind is your ticket to the big show! (Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the math, though.)

From the list:

The best books about quantum physics that are also the most accessible

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Book cover of The Looking Glass House

The Looking Glass House

By Vanessa Tait

Why this book?

This fictional interpretation of the creation of Alice’s Adventures is seen from the viewpoint of a constant, yet largely unremarked, fixture during these critical years: the Liddell family governess, Mary Prickett. The Oxford context of the time is convincingly depicted, and some of the burning issues of the day – Darwinism and Nonconformism, for instance – are interwoven with the more immediate tensions within the Liddell household, interpreted by an author who has more right than anyone to comment because Tait is the great-granddaughter of the real Alice herself. To sustain the pace she condenses the real events of 1857…
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The best books about Lewis Carroll and Alice

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Book cover of The Mathematical Theory of Communication

The Mathematical Theory of Communication

By Claude E. Shannon, Warren Weaver

Why this book?

While studying computer networks, Claude Shannon did something pretty impressive. He reformulated the majority of classical statistics from scratch using the language and concepts of computer science. 

Statistical noise? There’s a new word for that; it’s called entropy. Also, it turns out it is a good thing, not a bad thing because entropy is equal to the information content or a data set. Tired of minimizing the squared error of everything? That’s fine, minimize the log of its likelihood instead. It does the same thing. This book challenges the assumptions of classical statistics in a way that fits neatly…

From the list:

The best mathematics books for quant finance

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Book cover of Odds Against Tomorrow

Odds Against Tomorrow

By Nathaniel Rich

Why this book?

Climate fiction, or “cli-fi” as it is now known, lets readers imagine the world about which scientists are warning, a world where climate-fueled extremes upend humanity’s everyday existence. This book tells the story of a Midwestern math whiz who studies “worst-case scenarios” for a living. When one of those scenarios collides with his own life, action, adventure, and love follow.

From the list:

The best books to deal with catastrophic risks

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Book cover of Hilbert

Hilbert

By Constance Reid

Why this book?

David Hilbert was the most important mathematician at the dawn of the 20th century. In 1900, he gave the mathematical community its homework for the next 100 years setting out the list of open problems that had to be solved by 2000. While to the rest of the mathematicians, he may have appeared as their professor, he was also the class clown. As colorful and funny as he was brilliant, you cannot but come away loving this great mathematical genius.

From the list:

The best popular biographies of mathematicians and scientists

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Book cover of Newton: The Making of Genius

Newton: The Making of Genius

By Patricia Fara

Why this book?

When I was asked to review this book, my first instinct was to decline. Newton (1642-1727) was a towering genius but a dull fellow, with no interest in other human beings. He often published anonymously for fear that, he explained: "Public esteem, were I able to acquire and maintain it … would perhaps increase my acquaintance, the thing which I chiefly study to decline." How can a biographer make such a person interesting?

The author dodges very nimbly around this problem, giving us an account, not so much of the man as of his reputation and influence. Perhaps this means…

From the list:

The best mathematical biography books

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Book cover of Quantum Mechanics and Experience

Quantum Mechanics and Experience

By David Z. Albert

Why this book?

This is the most fun book that has ever been written about the famous philosophical challenges posed by the proper interpretation of quantum mechanics. It is extremely difficult to say what the real world could possibly be like considering that quantum mechanics is so accurate at predicting our observations of it. Albert is a wonderful guide to this problem. His book is genuinely funny and down-to-earth (yes, I mean it!) and it introduces only as much technical and scientific machinery as is absolutely necessary. There is no other quantum mechanics book quite like this one.

From the list:

The best books about the philosophy of physics

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Book cover of The Three Body Problem: A Cambridge Mystery

The Three Body Problem: A Cambridge Mystery

By Catherine Shaw

Why this book?

The Three Body Problem is a real-life unsolved math problem concerning the motion of three bodies (think a star and two orbiting planets), all acting on each other by the pull of gravity. Given their positions and movements at times, what will happen in the future? Will they eventually fly away or fall into the star?  

The Three Body Problem is also a mathematical mystery by Catherine Shaw (a pen name – shhh), set in Cambridge in Victorian times, which contains three actual dead bodies, all of the mathematicians working on the eponymous problem. Another mathematician, who knew all three…

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The best mathematical mystery novels

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Book cover of The Variational Principles of Mechanics

The Variational Principles of Mechanics

By Cornelius Lanczos

Why this book?

I love this book! Of course, it teaches the mathematics of the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian approaches to classical mechanics. But its real uniqueness lies in how the author explains the basic concepts of the subject with a constant emphasis on intuitive physics. It was only after reading Lanczos that I finally understood what variational calculations were really about. Ditto for virtual work, non-holonomic constraints, Liouville’s theorem and Hamilton-Jacobi theory. I barely noticed that I was learning about the history and philosophy of classical mechanics at the same time.
From the list:

The best books for physics graduate students

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Book cover of Ratner's Star

Ratner's Star

By Don Delillo

Why this book?

This is a big sprawling story. Do you love books like that or hate them? I love them because they feel like giant puzzles: you kind of lose yourself in them and enjoy the constant twists and turns. DeLillo is a postmodern master so you can trust that he has it all under control. In this book, Billy, a teen mathematician prodigy, wins the Nobel Prize in Mathematics and is spirited away to help decipher a mysterious message from aliens. It’s been compared to Alice in Wonderland for its down-the-rabbit-hole and through-the-looking-glass aspects of plot twists and characters. What makes…
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The best books with aliens that are not science fiction

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Book cover of The Lives of Literature: Reading, Teaching, Knowing

The Lives of Literature: Reading, Teaching, Knowing

By Arnold Weinstein

Why this book?

Weinstein takes the age-old question – what is literature? – and transforms it into why we (would want to) read literature. For him, literature changes us, allows us to be someone else, and provides us insight into the world we inhabit, and many more worlds we haven’t. He reads a broad array of works, from Sophocles to James Joyce and Toni Morrison, and thinks about such issues as identification, empathy, and sympathy with those we come to ‘know’ through our reading.

From the list:

The best books to help us harness the ‘classics’ to address crises -- such as flight from persecution

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