The Moment of Proof: Mathematical Epiphanies by Donald C. Benson

The Moment of Proof: Mathematical Epiphanies

byDonald C. Benson

Paperback | November 15, 2000

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When Archimedes, while bathing, suddenly hit upon the principle of buoyancy, he ran wildly through the streets of Syracuse, stark naked, crying "eureka!" In The Moment of Proof, Donald Benson attempts to convey to general readers the feeling of eureka--the joy of discovery--that mathematiciansfeel when they first encounter an elegant proof. This is not an introduction to mathematics so much as an introduction to the pleasures of mathematical thinking. And indeed the delights of this book are many and varied. The book is packed with intriguing conundrums--Loyd's Fifteen Puzzle, the Petersburg Paradox, the Chaos Game, the MontyHall Problem, the Prisoners' Dilemma--as well as many mathematical curiosities. We learn how to perform the arithmetical proof called "casting out nines" and are introduced to Russian peasant multiplication, a bizarre way to multiply numbers that actually works. The book shows us how to calculatethe number of ways a chef can combine ten or fewer spices to flavor his soup (1,024) and how many people we would have to gather in a room to have a 50-50 chance of two having the same birthday (23 people). But most important, Benson takes us step by step through these many mathematical wonders, sothat we arrive at the solution much the way a working scientist would--and with much the same feeling of surprise. Every fan of mathematical puzzles will be enthralled by The Moment of Proof. Indeed, anyone interested in mathematics or in scientific discovery in general will want to own this book.

About The Author

Donald C. Benson is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of California, Davis. He lives in Davis, California.

Details & Specs

Title:The Moment of Proof: Mathematical EpiphaniesFormat:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 7.2 × 8.9 × 1.1 inPublished:November 15, 2000Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195139194

ISBN - 13:9780195139198

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From Our Editors

Donald C. Benson’s volume is an introduction to the pleasures of mathematical thinking rather than a simple introduction to math. The Moment of Proof: Mathematical Epiphanies features such fascinating conundrums as Lloyd’s Fifteen Puzzle, the Petersburg Paradox, the Chaos Game, the Monty Hall Problem and the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Want to learn how to figure out the maximum number of flavour combinations a chef can create for his soup using ten spices? How many people would have to be gathered in a room before you’d have a 50-50 chance of finding two people with the same birthday? Find out by reading this fascinating mathematical volume.

Editorial Reviews

"The author acquaints the reader with many topics of mathematics and with related interesting curiosities. But the main aim of the book is to share with a wide range of readers the pleasure of mathematical thinking and the joy of discovery. Readers will frequently experience the pleasure ofa sudden insight into a mathematical problem, and may understand what it means when somebody speaks about the beauty of mathematics, about the elegance of mathematical proofs, and about the charm of mathematical ideas."--EMS