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IWD 2020: Books about Maths by Women

For International Women’s Day, mathematician Lucy Rycroft-Smith has read a selection of maths books by women authors, and recommended some favourites.

There’s a strange irony about being a woman in mathematics. You spend a huge amount of time and energy answering questions about being a woman in mathematics instead of, you know, using that time and energy to do or write about actual maths. We women are somehow both the problem and the solution. 

But behold: 2020 is here, and better and braver women than I have solved this conundrum.  Here are a whole host of excellent books about maths by women that you should definitely read, collected for you by another woman in maths. 

High definition

We asked #bigmathoff competitor Lucy Rycroft-Smith to tell us a little about her latest project – CM Define It, an app aiming to collect and define mathematical vocabulary, which launches today.

When you teach mathematical vocabulary, how do you define its meaning?

Are you exact, choosing your words specifically?  Do you give a written definition?  Do you give multiple explanations?  Do you use diagrams?  Metaphors? Connect to previous vocabulary?

As part of our work at Cambridge, creating a Framework for mathematics learning, we are creating a network of semantic links across nodes in our mathematical layer – and we initially thought we could just import a mathematical glossary from somewhere else to populate this.  But we found so many inconsistencies, technical errors, and definition loops in many existing glossaries that we decided to make an app to ask the mathematical community what they thought, with the aim of developing a crowdsourced, multi-layered collage which takes into account different layers of mathematical experience.

The Big Internet Math-Off 2019, Group 1 – Alex Corner vs Lucy Rycroft-Smith

Welcome to The Big Internet Math-Off! Over the next month, 16 intrepid mathematicians are going to be sharing some of their favourite bits of maths in a series of head-to-head matches that will leave all of us mathematically enriched and all but one of them wishing they’d read more Martin Gardner.

The tournament starts today with our first match in group 1: Alex Corner vs Lucy Rycroft-Smith. They’ve each made a pitch for a fun bit of maths, which is below, and at the end of this post there’s a poll where you can vote for your favourite bit of maths.

If you know any more cool facts about either of the topics presented here, please write a comment below!

So, without further ado, let’s once more toot Gabriel’s Horn and start The Big Internet Math-Off for 2019! First up is Alex Corner.