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- How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics by Eugenia Cheng
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- HOW TO BAKE PI by Eugenia Cheng | Kirkus Reviews
While Cheng tackles lots of interesting ideas from mathematics in her book, she mostly does so at a pretty low level and it is unlikely that many undergraduate math students, let alone professional mathematicians, will gain new mathematical insights from the book. And while the meta-level ideas about the analogies between ideas in cooking and ideas in mathematics as well as the more general thoughts about abstraction and mathematics were interesting, I think that most readers of MAA Reviews would find them more appropriate to a short article than a page book.
Each chapter begins with a recipe, which Cheng then uses to motivate the mathematics that follows. It has things in common with a cake… but is still somehow not quite the same as a cake. Another chapter discusses how some mathematics is created in order to solve a particular problem while other mathematics is developed on its own and applications are searched for after the fact.
She refers to this as Internal-vs-External motivation and leans heavily on the analogy with how sometimes a chef goes shopping for ingredients for the recipe they want to cook and other times a dish is developed to use the ingredients one has in their pantry, such as the Chocolate and Prune Bread Pudding she developed, whose recipe is included in the book. Even from these descriptions you can probably tell that Cheng truly enjoys and is very thoughtful about her cooking, her mathematics, and her expository writing, and as a reader I enjoyed seeing where she would go next.
She goes on to discuss various notions of sameness, structure, and universal properties, and manages to do so while keeping the book quite readable and light in tone even as the actual content gets increasingly technical. While he likes to cook Mexican food and Indian food, he has never been a very good baker and his waistline probably thinks he should keep it that way. He can be reached at dglass gettysburg. Skip to main content. Search form Search. Login Join Give Shops. Halmos - Lester R. Ford Awards Merten M.
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How exactly does it work? And what do three siblings trying to share a cake have to do with it? This is not the math of our high school classes: mathematics, Cheng shows us, is less about numbers and formulas and more about how we know, believe, and understand anything, including whether our brother took too much cake.
Lively, funny, and clear, How to Bake Pi will dazzle the initiated while amusing and enlightening even the most hardened math-phobe. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about How to Bake Pi , please sign up.
Anyone have a review to add? Is it really straight forward?
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- How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics.
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- Book Review: How to Bake Pi by Eugenia Cheng!
How are her jokes? Nate I really enjoyed it! The mathematics explanations are very straight forward despite dealing with college level mathematics. The writing is funny and …more I really enjoyed it! The writing is funny and very human. I haven't tried the recipes so I can't help you there. This might sound dumb but Is this a cookbook????
Gabriela No, not really but it has interesting analogies between baking and math and there's some recipes. See all 3 questions about How to Bake Pi…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters.
How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics by Eugenia Cheng
Sort order. Popular maths books are the most difficult to make interesting to those beyond the hard core readers who are happy to spend their time on mathematical puzzles and diversions, and the reason this book gets four stars despite a couple of problems is that is one of the most original and insightful books on the nature of mathematics for the general reader that I've ever seen.
Rather than simply throw mathematical puzzles and diversions at us, or weird and wonderful numbers, Eugenia Cheng takes us on Popular maths books are the most difficult to make interesting to those beyond the hard core readers who are happy to spend their time on mathematical puzzles and diversions, and the reason this book gets four stars despite a couple of problems is that is one of the most original and insightful books on the nature of mathematics for the general reader that I've ever seen.
Rather than simply throw mathematical puzzles and diversions at us, or weird and wonderful numbers, Eugenia Cheng takes us on something close to a journey through the mathematical mind, introducing us first to abstraction, then through the processes of mathematics, the way it generalises and the essential foundations of axioms.
This is all as an introduction to the second half the the book on Cheng's speciality, category theory, which will I suspect be as unfamiliar to most non-mathematicians as it was to me. So in terms of what it sets out to do and what, to some degree, it achieves it is absolutely brilliant. Cheng writes in a light, engaging fashion and really pushes the envelope on the way that you can explore mathematics.
I can't totally ignore the issues. The lesser one is that as a gimmick, each section begins with a recipe which is then used to illustrate a mathematical point though also to talk about food - I found this a touch condescending and very irritating, though some readers will probably like it. The bigger problem is that the author isn't great at structuring a book. The first chapter particularly is all over the place, and she has a tendency to use concepts before they are explained. This is particularly true of category theory, which never really gets a clear, approachable definition, but rather is feinted at to begin with, and then introduced as example after example, which without a structure explaining just what it does is quite difficult to put together as a total picture of a discipline.
So, flawed it certainly is, but that doesn't get in the way of it being an unusually interesting attempt at doing something far more significant than most popular mathematics books do.
I've always felt that pure maths was uncomfortably abstract and arbitrary, coming up with rules that have no obvious justification. This is the first book of read where it's possible to get a sense of, 'Hey, that kind of makes sense' - which surely is an impressive achievement. If you can look past the gimmicky aspect and the occasionally confusing structure you are in for a treat.
View 2 comments. May 27, John rated it really liked it Shelves: logic , mathematics , cookery. Lots of helpful examples of concepts, mostly through food and baking. It is a book about mathematics that uses recipes for illumination. The book has one major failing: it lacks a further reading section.
How to Bake Pi
It would be great if such a knowledgeable author could have provided a sign post on where to go next to learn more Category Theory. If it had an annotated further reading section it would have been perfect. Feb 16, Mark rated it really liked it. How to Bake Pi by Eugenia Cheng is a fascinating look at mathematics from an atypical perspective. In this work Eugenia shows how math is far larger, varied, and more encompassing than merely solving equations.
She introduces each of her chapters with a "recipe" involving real food as an analogy to illustrate the points she makes. In the early part of the book Eugenia describes how many people find math difficult and drop away at different stages. For some, arithmetic is hard. For other algebra How to Bake Pi by Eugenia Cheng is a fascinating look at mathematics from an atypical perspective.
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For other algebra or geometry is where they drop away. For some it might be trigonometry.
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For others calculus. And so on. In my own personal experience, I found that I could not get past the plateau of calculus. Starting with calculus and going further into advance mathematics, problem-solving and finding the "right" answer is no longer the goal. My belief was that math was about solving problems, and so calculus increasingly made little sense in my mind.
HOW TO BAKE PI by Eugenia Cheng | Kirkus Reviews
Perhaps if I had known what this book describes about math, I may have had a chance to get past the wall of calculus. The first part of the book discusses abstractions and generalizations as one of the key goals of math. The second part of the book discusses Eugenia's field of specialty: Category Theory, and how the purpose of this meta-math or math of math is to simply math. The final chapter brings all the earlier pages together as Eugenia summarizes the knowledge and makes a case to have her readers come away with the belief that math isn't hard.
She does so by applying in her literary work the principles she discusses in this very chapter: she uses her discussions to bridge the knowledge and belief through understanding. So in the end I find that her math "principles" apply to not just math, but to cooking and to writing. What is contained in this book is probably of most interest to someone familiar with high school math and onward.