Tuesday, March 4, 2008

New Book Profile: a math coffee table book

New Book Profile

Title: Mathematical Omnibus: Thirty Lectures on Classic Mathematics (QA37.3.F83 2007: New Book shelf)
Authors: Dmitry Fuchs and Serge Tabachnikov
Publisher: American Mathematical Society
Year: 2007
463 pages

I love the self-described concept of a mathematical coffee table book. Dmitry Fuchs and Serge Tabachnikov have lofty goals for Mathematical Omnibus: Thirty Lectures on Classic Mathematics, a book they dedicate to one of their heroes Vladimir Arnold in honor of his seventieth birthday. For one, the topics covered in this work are meant to depict the beauty and classical nature of mathematics. In addition, the authors suggest the book solo as the text in an undergraduate advanced math seminar. Other suggestions include provision of topical discussion for a math club, and finally, as a coffee table book. Indeed, it is illustrated throughout with proofs, photographs of famous mathematicians, and charming chapter drawings by Sergey Ivanov.

The discussions in this book are designed for students and advanced mathematicians alike. Assumed prior knowledge is, at most, a calculus class with many discussions appropriate for high school students in advanced math. Each lesson contains exercises with solutions or references to mathematical literature, in the case of a complex solution. Topics are not limited to one aspect of math but cover the gamut from rational numbers to developable surfaces to the Poncelet Porism. Whether or not Fuchs and Tabachnikov reach their goals, I leave to the Eckerd community to decide.

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