[biography: mathematicians + scientists]
[codes and code-breaking]
[computer science/robotics/game theory]
[history of mathematics]
[mathematics - general]
[novels + short stories]
[probability + statistics]
[puzzles + problems]
[reference - mathematics]
[reliable, prolific authors on science + math]
[science - general]
- 1. Chaos: Making a New Science
- by James Gleick
- (Viking Penguin, 317pp., 1988)
- "Chaos records the birth of a new science. This new science offers a way of seeing order and pattern where formerly only the random, the erratic, the unpredictable--in short, the chaotic--had been observed. Chaos is a history of discovery. It chronicles, in the words of the scientists themselves, their conflicts and frustrations, their emotions and moments of revelation. After reading Chaos, you will never look at the world in quite the same way again."
- 2. Exploring Chaos: A Guide to the New Science of Disorder
- edited by Nina Hall
- (W.W. Norton, 223 pp, 1991)
- GFBR*** HS-Adult
- "In the past few years, a new line of scientific inquiry called 'chaos theory' has caught the popular imagination. ...Chaos theory, it turns out, has a deeper meaning for our understanding of nature. All sorts of phenomena - from dripping faucets to swinging pendulums, from the unpredictability of the weather to the majestic parade of the planets, from heart rhythms to gold futures - are best perceived through the mathematical prism of chaos theory. In this collection of incisive, front-line reports, ably edited by Nina Hall for New Scientist magazine, internationally recognized experts such as Ian Stewart, Robert May, and Benoit Mandelbrot draw on the latest research to explain the roots of chaos in modern science and mathematics."
- 3. Does God Play Dice? The New Mathematics of Chaos
- By Ian Stewart
- (Blackwell, 416 pp, 2002)
- "The science of chaos is forcing scientists to rethink Einstein's fundamental assumptions regarding the way the universe behaves. Chaos theory has already shown that simple systems, obeying precise laws, can nevertheless act in a random manner. ...[This book] reveals a strange universe in which nothing may be as it seems. Familiar geometrical shapes such as circles and ellipses give way to infinitely complex structures known as fractals, the fluttering of a butterfly's wings can change the weather, and the gravitational attraction of a creature in a distant galaxy can change the fate of the solar system."
CODES AND CODE-BREAKING
- 1. The Code Book: The evolution of secrecy from Mary, Queen of Scots to Quantum Cryptography
- By Simon Singh
- (Doubleday, 402 pp, 1999)
- GFBR**** Teen-Adult
- "Codes have decided the fates of empires, countries, and monarchies throughout recorded history. Combining a superb storyteller's sense of drama and a scientist's appreciation for technical perfection, Singh traces the evolution of secret writing from ancient Greek military espionage to the frontiers of computer science." Good treatment.
- 2. Cracking Codes: The Rosetta Stone and Decipherment
- By Richard Parkinson
- (U. of California Press, 208 pp, 1999)
- "In 1799, while Napoleon's troops battled the fierce Mamelukes in Egypt's Western Delta, a French engineer discovered a giant granite slab that contained strange symbols and Greek letters. Two Egyptologists, the British-born Thomas Young and the astounding young French linguistic polymath Jean-François Champollion, fought to decipher the confounding script in an epic scientific battle. In 1822 Champollion finally broke through 3,000 years of mystery and revealed the Egyptian demotic and hieroglyphic system of writing--forever changing our view of history in the process. Cracking Codes, by Richard Parkinson, the British Museum's assistant keeper of Egyptian antiquities, is a companion volume for the museum's bicentennial exhibition of what has come to be known as the Rosetta stone. With 32 color and 200 black-and-white illustrations ranging from limestone fragments to whole statues, illustrated papyrus, and evocative wall paintings, Parkinson shows how Champollion's piercing of the mists of time has enabled the ancient Egyptians to speak to modern civilizations. Parkinson's essays on the importance of writing to human civilization and the birth of Egyptology are equally insightful. 'The decipherment of the Egyptian scripts is not a single event that occurred in 1822,' he writes, but 'a continuous process that is repeated at every reading of a text or artifact. Like any process of reading, it is a dialogue.'"
- 3. The Emperor's Codes: The Breaking of Japan's Secret Ciphers
- By Michael Smith
- (Arcade,336 pp, 2000)
- GFBR**** Teen-Adult
- More of a history book than a math book, it shows how important it was in World War 2 for the USA to break the Japanese codes. Gives some details on how it was done, which is good for those who want to try their hand at it!
- 4. In Code: A Mathematical Journey
- By Sarah Flannery
- (Workman, 341 pp, 2001)
- "British best-seller by and about the 16-year-old who stunned the world by inventing a way of making public-key encryption much more efficient; an engaging, almost playful, book in which the reader is encouraged to spend lots of time working out mathematical puzzles."
COMPUTER SCIENCE/ROBOTICS/GAME THEORY
- 1. Advent of the Algorithm: The 300-Year Journey from an Idea to the Computer
- By David Berlinski
- (Harcourt, 416 pp, 2000)
- "Francis Sullivan of the Institute for Defense Analysis said 'Great algorithms are the poetry of computation'; David Berlinski calls the algorithm 'the idea that rules the world.' The Advent of the Algorithm is not so much a history of algorithms as a historical fantasia. Berlinski spins freely between semifictional accounts of historical figures, personal reminiscence, and mathematical proofs--without ever really defining an algorithm in so many words. This is not the book for those who were maddened by Berlinski's A Tour of the Calculus; his style remains quirky, digressive, self-referential, and dense: 'And then, by some inscrutable incandescent insight, Leibniz came to see that what is crucial in what he had written is the alternation between God and Nothingness. And for this, the numbers 0 and 1 suffice.' And: 'Twinkies and Diet Coke in hand, computer programmers can now be observed pausing thoughtfully at their consoles.' Berlinski's argument seems to be that algorithms--step-by-step procedures for getting answers--superceded logic, and will be superceded in turn by more biological, empirical, fuzzy methods. The structure of the book reflects this argument--sketches of people like Leibniz, Hilbert, Gödel, and Turing are interwoven with proofs and with characters of Berlinski's own invention. Berlinski's voice, closer to Hofstadter than to Knuth, remains unique."
- 2. Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
- By Douglas Hofstadter
- (Basic, 777pp, 1979/1999)
- GFBR***** Advanced HS-Adult
- "Twenty years after it topped the bestseller charts, Douglas R. Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid is still something of a marvel. Besides being a profound and entertaining meditation on human thought and creativity, this book looks at the surprising points of contact between the music of Bach, the artwork of Escher, and the mathematics of Gödel. It also looks at the prospects for computers and artificial intelligence (AI) for mimicking human thought. For the general reader and the computer techie alike, this book still sets a standard for thinking about the future of computers and their relation to the way we think." One of the most brilliant books I have ever read!
- 3. The Magic Machine: A Handbook of Computer Sorcery
- By A. K. Dewdney
- (W.H. Freeman, 357 pp, 1990)
- GFBR**** HS-Adult
- If you want to learn how to write amazing programs on a computer or graphing calculator, this is an excellent place to start to find ideas.
- 4. The Pattern on the Stone - The Simple Ideas that Make Computers Work
- By W. Daniel Hills
- (Basic Books, 164 pp, 1998)
- "Daniel Hillis has made a career of puzzling over the nature of information and the mechanisms that put information to use. Now, he's distilled his accumulated knowledge of computer science into The Pattern on the Stone, a glorious book that reveals the nature of logical machines simply and elegantly. Millions of times each second, to the drumbeat of a clock signal, electronic computers compare digital values. These comparisons, and the actions taken in response to them, are what computers are all about at their lowest levels, and, with the help of this book, they're not hard to comprehend. Moving on from the nature of logical circuits, the author deconstructs software and the mechanisms it employs to solve problems. Hillis then stands atop the building blocks he's arranged into a sturdy foundation and discusses the future of computing. Parallel processors already are in use, and neural networks with limited abilities to learn and adapt have proved quite good at certain jobs. Hillis explores the potential of both these technologies. Then, he throws some light on quantum computing and evolving systems--emerging ideas that promise to make computers much more powerful, and thereby change the world."
- 5. Silicon Dreams: Information, Man, and Machine
- By Robert Lucky
- (St. Martin's Press, 1991)
- "...a highly informed discussion of the new information age, ... what information is, how it is generated, captured, stored, and communicated, and goes on to explain information theory, cryptology, speech synthesis and recognition, and much more. Charts, diagrams, photographs."
- 6. Why Flip a Coin? The Art and Science of Good Decisions
- By H. W. Lewis
- (Wiley, 206 pp, 1997)
- GFBR*** HS-Adult
- "Drawing on a host of research findings and scores of examples - from how to win a war to how to win the office football pool - the author presents a host of brain-teasing problems and amusing scenarios that releal the clever ways to avoid the chaos and anxiety of decision dilemmas."