Mathematics in Nature: Modeling Patterns in the Natural World

Princeton University Press
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From rainbows, river meanders, and shadows to spider webs, honeycombs, and the markings on animal coats, the visible world is full of patterns that can be described mathematically. Examining such readily observable phenomena, this book introduces readers to the beauty of nature as revealed by mathematics and the beauty of mathematics as revealed in nature.

Generously illustrated, written in an informal style, and replete with examples from everyday life, Mathematics in Nature is an excellent and undaunting introduction to the ideas and methods of mathematical modeling. It illustrates how mathematics can be used to formulate and solve puzzles observed in nature and to interpret the solutions. In the process, it teaches such topics as the art of estimation and the effects of scale, particularly what happens as things get bigger. Readers will develop an understanding of the symbiosis that exists between basic scientific principles and their mathematical expressions as well as a deeper appreciation for such natural phenomena as cloud formations, halos and glories, tree heights and leaf patterns, butterfly and moth wings, and even puddles and mud cracks.


Developed out of a university course, this book makes an ideal supplemental text for courses in applied mathematics and mathematical modeling. It will also appeal to mathematics educators and enthusiasts at all levels, and is designed so that it can be dipped into at leisure.

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About the author

John A. Adam is Professor of Mathematics at Old Dominion University, coeditor of A Survey of Models for Tumor-Immune System Dynamics, and a regular contributor to leading journals in applied mathematics.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Oct 2, 2011
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Pages
392
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ISBN
9781400841011
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Language
English
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Genres
Mathematics / Applied
Mathematics / General
Mathematics / Recreations & Games
Nature / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Have you ever daydreamed about digging a hole to the other side of the world? Robert Banks not only entertains such ideas but, better yet, he supplies the mathematical know-how to turn fantasies into problem-solving adventures. In this sequel to the popular Towing Icebergs, Falling Dominoes (Princeton, 1998), Banks presents another collection of puzzles for readers interested in sharpening their thinking and mathematical skills. The problems range from the wondrous to the eminently practical. In one chapter, the author helps us determine the total number of people who have lived on earth; in another, he shows how an understanding of mathematical curves can help a thrifty lover, armed with construction paper and scissors, keep expenses down on Valentine's Day.

In twenty-six chapters, Banks chooses topics that are fairly easy to analyze using relatively simple mathematics. The phenomena he describes are ones that we encounter in our daily lives or can visualize without much trouble. For example, how do you get the most pizza slices with the least number of cuts? To go from point A to point B in a downpour of rain, should you walk slowly, jog moderately, or run as fast as possible to get least wet? What is the length of the seam on a baseball? If all the ice in the world melted, what would happen to Florida, the Mississippi River, and Niagara Falls? Why do snowflakes have six sides?


Covering a broad range of fields, from geography and environmental studies to map- and flag-making, Banks uses basic algebra and geometry to solve problems. If famous scientists have also pondered these questions, the author shares the historical details with the reader. Designed to entertain and to stimulate thinking, this book can be read for sheer personal enjoyment.

Science and engineering students depend heavily on concepts of mathematical modeling. In an age where almost everything is done on a computer, author Clive Dym believes that students need to understand and "own" the underlying mathematics that computers are doing on their behalf. His goal for Principles of Mathematical Modeling, Second Edition, is to engage the student reader in developing a foundational understanding of the subject that will serve them well into their careers.

The first half of the book begins with a clearly defined set of modeling principles, and then introduces a set of foundational tools including dimensional analysis, scaling techniques, and approximation and validation techniques. The second half demonstrates the latest applications for these tools to a broad variety of subjects, including exponential growth and decay in fields ranging from biology to economics, traffic flow, free and forced vibration of mechanical and other systems, and optimization problems in biology, structures, and social decision making.

Prospective students should have already completed courses in elementary algebra, trigonometry, and first-year calculus and have some familiarity with differential equations and basic physics.

Serves as an introductory text on the development and application of mathematical modelsFocuses on techniques of particular interest to engineers, scientists, and others who model continuous systemsOffers more than 360 problems, providing ample opportunities for practiceCovers a wide range of interdisciplinary topics--from engineering to economics to the sciencesUses straightforward language and explanations that make modeling easy to understand and apply

New to this Edition:

A more systematic approach to mathematical modeling, outlining ten specific principlesExpanded and reorganized chapters that flow in an increasing level of complexitySeveral new problems and updated applicationsExpanded figure captions that provide more informationImproved accessibility and flexibility for teaching
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