From Here to Infinity: A Guide to Today’s Mathematics

By Ian Stewart

1996 edition

“From Here to Infinity” is an enchanting read, which inspires both budding mathematicians, and curious outsiders alike. For mathematicians are mysterious beings to the general population; enshrouded in a cloak of cryptic symbols, they slip into another world, with an aura the ignorant classify as having a residue of chalky smoke, and mundane arithmetic.

Stewart bridges the gap between the uninformed individual and the world of mathematics with friendly, open approach. Several comprehensive chapters discuss intriguing topics, including chaos theory, knots, computer technology, algorithms, fractals, Fermat’s last theorem, and how to increase one’s odds of winning the lottery.

Never speaking down to the reader, Stewart provides many examples to illustrate a concept, which are punctuated with the occasional joke. For the reader with little exposure, the examples are fascinating, and show another side of thinking all together. However, as the examples develop, the level of math increases steeply. But, the initial feeling of frustration with a challenging idea gives way to a feeling of satisfied accomplishment with the completion of each chapter.

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