Once Upon a Number by John Allen Paulos
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Once Upon a Number
By John Allen Paulos

Once Upon a Number

The Hidden Mathematical Logic of Stories

By (author) See other recent books by John Allen Paulos
Format: Paperback

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Once Upon a Number by John Allen Paulos

Book Description

What two things could be more different than numbers and stories? Numbers are abstract, certain, and eternal, but to most of us somewhat dry and bloodless. Good stories are full of life: they engage our emotions and have subtlety and nuance, but they lack rigor and the truths they tell are elusive and subject to debate. As ways of understanding the world around us, numbers and stories seem almost completely incompatible.Once Upon a Number shows that stories and numbers aren't as different as you might imagine, and in fact they have surprising and fascinating connections. The concepts of logic and probability both grew out of intuitive ideas about how certain situations would play out. Now, logicians are inventing ways to deal with real world situations by mathematical means--by acknowledging, for instance, that items that are mathematically interchangeable may not be interchangeable in a story. And complexity theory looks at both number strings and narrative strings in remarkably similar terms.Throughout, renowned author John Paulos mixes numbers and narratives in his own delightful style. Along with lucid accounts of cutting-edge information theory we get hilarious anecdotes and jokes; instructions for running a truly impressive pyramid scam; a freewheeling conversation between Groucho Marx and Bertrand Russell (while they're stuck in an elevator together); explanations of why the statistical evidence against OJ Simpson was overwhelming beyond doubt and how the Unabomber's thinking shows signs of mathematical training; and dozens of other treats. This is another winner from America's favorite mathematician.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780465051595
ISBN-10: 0465051596
Format: Paperback
(204mm x 127mm x 15mm)
Pages: 224
Imprint: Basic Books
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 17-Sep-1999
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...

Books By Author John Allen Paulos

Irreligion by John Allen Paulos Irreligion, Paperback (September 2009)

Are there any logical reasons to believe in God? This book refutes the twelve arguments that are often put forward for believing in God's existence.

Mathematician Plays the Stock Market by John Allen Paulos Mathematician Plays the Stock Market, Paperback (April 2004)

Paulos demonstrates what the tools of mathematics can tell us about the vagaries of the stock market. Employing his trademark stories, vignettes, paradoxes, and puzzles, Paulos addresses every thinking reader's curiosity about the market.

» View all books by John Allen Paulos


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Author Biography - John Allen Paulos

John Allen Paulos received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin and is professor of mathematics at Temple University. Dr. Paulos has written a number of scholarly papers on mathematical logic, probability, and the philosophy of science. He is also the author of Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, Beyond Numeracy: Ruminations of a Numbers Man, Mathematics and Humor, and A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two children.

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