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About Jordan Ellenberg
Jordan Ellenberg is a professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard and an MFA in creative writing from Johns Hopkins. His areas of research specialization are number theory and algebraic geometry. He has written articles on mathematical topics in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Wired, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, and the Believer, and is a regular columnist for Slate.
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From the Sunday Times bestselling author of How Not to Be Wrong, a hugely entertaining exploration of the geometry that underlies our world
How should a democracy choose its representatives? How can you stop a pandemic from sweeping the world? How do computers learn to play chess? Can ancient Greek proportions predict the stock market? (Sorry, no.) What should your kids learn in school if they really want to learn to think? The answers to all these questions can be found in geometry.
If you're like most people, geometry is a dimly-remembered exercise, handed down from the ancients, that you gladly left behind in school. It seemed to be a tortuous way of proving some fact about triangles that was obvious to you in the first place. That's not geometry. OK, it is geometry, but only a tiny part, that has as much to do with the modern, fast-moving discipline as conjugating a verb has to do with a great novel.
In Shape, Sunday Times-bestselling author Jordan Ellenberg reveals the geometry underneath some of the most important scientific, political, and philosophical problems we face, from the spread of coronavirus to rise of machine learning. The word 'geometry,' from the Greek, means 'measuring the world.' But geometry doesn't just measure the world - it explains it. Shape shows us how.
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 with it.
Math allows us to see the hidden structures underneath the messy and chaotic surface of our world. It's a science of not being wrong, hammered out by centuries of hard work and argument. Armed with the tools of mathematics, we can see through to the true meaning of information we take for granted: How early should you get to the airport? What does "public opinion" really represent? Why do tall parents have shorter children? Who really won Florida in 2000? And how likely are you, really, to develop cancer?
How Not to Be Wrong presents the surprising revelations behind all of these questions and many more, using the mathematician's method of analyzing life and exposing the hard-won insights of the academic community to the layman--minus the jargon. Ellenberg chases mathematical threads through a vast range of time and space, from the everyday to the cosmic, encountering, among other things, baseball, Reaganomics, daring lottery schemes, Voltaire, the replicability crisis in psychology, Italian Renaissance painting, artificial languages, the development of non-Euclidean geometry, the coming obesity apocalypse, Antonin Scalia's views on crime and punishment, the psychology of slime molds, what Facebook can and can't figure out about you, and the existence of God.
Ellenberg pulls from history as well as from the latest theoretical developments to provide those not trained in math with the knowledge they need. Math, as Ellenberg says, is "an atomic-powered prosthesis that you attach to your common sense, vastly multiplying its reach and strength." With the tools of mathematics in hand, you can understand the world in a deeper, more meaningful way. How Not to Be Wrong will show you how.