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Aperiodical News Roundup – February 2021

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Here’s a round-up of the latest mathematical news from the (perfectly rectangular) month of February.

Review: Math Without Numbers by Milo Beckman

This guest review is written by Sophie Maclean. Math Without Numbers will be released on 7th January.

Math Without Numbers

I think it’s safe to say that all fans of The Aperiodical like maths. I would also be confident in saying that there’s a shared feeling of “the more the merrier”, and we want as many people as possible to share our love of maths. In this respect, Milo Beckman would fit right in. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that his book Math Without Numbers is precisely the kind of book that could get more people to realise how fun maths can be.

Review: ‘Power-Up: Unlocking the Hidden Mathematics in Video Games’ by Matthew Lane

Power-Up: Unlocking the Hidden

We’ve been sent a copy of Matthew Lane’s Power-Up: Unlocking the Hidden Mathematics in Video Games, and despatched Aperiodical regular and video game fan Paul Taylor to review it.

Review: The Mathematics of Secrets by Joshua Holden

Any book on cryptography written for a more-or-less lay audience must inevitably face comparisons to The Code Book, written in 1999 by Simon Singh, the king of distilling complex subjects to a few hundred pages of understandable writing. While Singh’s book is a pretty thorough history of codes and codebreaking1 through the centuries with plenty of the maths thrown in, The Mathematics of Secrets is tilted (and indeed titled) more towards a fuller explanation of the mathematical techniques underlying the various ciphers. Although Holden’s book follows a basically chronological path, you won’t find too much interest in pre-computer ciphers here: Enigma is cracked on page seventy, and the name Alan Turing does not appear in the book.

  1. I will in this review unapologetically make no attempt to maintain any distinction between the terms code and cipher; cryptography, cryptanalysis and codebreaking, etc. []

Review: Snowflake Seashell Star, by Alex Bellos & Edmund Harriss

snowflake-seashell-star

Snowflake Seashell Star is a new mathematical colouring book, by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss, aimed at the lucrative ‘grown-up colouring books’ market that’s sprung up recently, heavily intersected with people who are interested in maths – the book can be used as a regular colouring book, but contains lots of interesting mathematical things, and mathematicians will love it. I wouldn’t have expected anything less from maths adventurer Bellos and mathematical artist and tiling fan Harriss, whose personalities both come through in the book – from the beautiful illustration to the playful style (and there’s a sneaky Harriss Spiral in there too).

The first thing I did in order to properly review the book was check an important mathematical fact, in case anyone was worried. And yes, everything in it is colourable using four colours or fewer. Phew.

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