Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension: A Mathematician's Journey Through Narcissistic Numbers, Optimal Dating Algorithms, at Least Two Kinds of Infinity, and More

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A book from the stand-up mathematician that makes math fun again!

Math is boring, says the mathematician and comedian Matt Parker. Part of the problem may be the way the subject is taught, but it's also true that we all, to a greater or lesser extent, find math difficult and counterintuitive. This counterintuitiveness is actually part of the point, argues Parker: the extraordinary thing about math is that it allows us to access logic and ideas beyond what our brains can instinctively do—through its logical tools we are able to reach beyond our innate abilities and grasp more and more abstract concepts.
In the absorbing and exhilarating Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension, Parker sets out to convince his readers to revisit the very math that put them off the subject as fourteen-year-olds. Starting with the foundations of math familiar from school (numbers, geometry, and algebra), he reveals how it is possible to climb all the way up to the topology and to four-dimensional shapes, and from there to infinity—and slightly beyond.
Both playful and sophisticated, Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension is filled with captivating games and puzzles, a buffet of optional hands-on activities that entices us to take pleasure in math that is normally only available to those studying at a university level. Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension invites us to re-learn much of what we missed in school and, this time, to be utterly enthralled by it.

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About the author

Matt Parker is a stand-up comedian and mathematician. He writes about math for The Guardian, has a math column in The Telegraph, is a regular panelist on Radio 4's The Infinite Monkey Cage, has appeared in and worked on Five Greatest on the Discovery Channel, and has performed his math stand-up routines in front of audiences of thousands.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Published on
Dec 2, 2014
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Pages
464
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ISBN
9780374710378
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Language
English
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Genres
Mathematics / Recreations & Games
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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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Data meets literature in this “enlightening” (The Wall Street Journal), “brilliant” (The Boston Globe), “Nate Silver-esque” (O, The Oprah Magazine) look at what the numbers have to say about our favorite authors and their masterpieces.

There’s a famous piece of writing advice—offered by Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, and myriad writers in between—not to use -ly adverbs like “quickly” or “angrily.” It sounds like solid advice, but can we actually test it? If we were to count all the -ly adverbs these authors used in their careers, do they follow their own advice? What’s more, do great books in general—the classics and the bestsellers—share this trait?

In the age of big data we can answer questions like these in the blink of an eye. In Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve, a “literary detective story: fast-paced, thought-provoking, and intriguing” (Brian Christian, coauthor of Algorithms to Live By), statistician and journalist Ben Blatt explores the wealth of fun findings that can be discovered by using text and data analysis. He assembles a database of thousands of books and hundreds of millions of words, and then he asks the questions that have intrigued book lovers for generations: What are our favorite authors’ favorite words? Do men and women write differently? Which bestselling writer uses the most clichés? What makes a great opening sentence? And which writerly advice is worth following or ignoring?

All of Blatt’s investigations and experiments are original, conducted himself, and no math knowledge is needed to enjoy the book. On every page, there are new and eye-opening findings. By the end, you will have a newfound appreciation of your favorite authors and also come away with a fresh perspective on your own writing. “Blatt’s new book reveals surprising literary secrets” (Entertainment Weekly) and casts an x-ray through literature, allowing us to see both the patterns that hold it together and the brilliant flourishes that allow it to spring to life.
The Freakonomics of math—a math-world superstar unveils the hidden beauty and logic of the world and puts its power in our hands

The math we learn in school can seem like a dull set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In How Not to Be Wrong, Jordan Ellenberg shows us how terribly limiting this view is: Math isn’t confined to abstract incidents that never occur in real life, but rather touches everything we do—the whole world is shot through with it.

Math allows us to see the hidden structures underneath the messy and chaotic surface of our world. It’s a science of not being wrong, hammered out by centuries of hard work and argument. Armed with the tools of mathematics, we can see through to the true meaning of information we take for granted: How early should you get to the airport? What does “public opinion” really represent? Why do tall parents have shorter children? Who really won Florida in 2000? And how likely are you, really, to develop cancer?

How Not to Be Wrong presents the surprising revelations behind all of these questions and many more, using the mathematician’s method of analyzing life and exposing the hard-won insights of the academic community to the layman—minus the jargon. Ellenberg chases mathematical threads through a vast range of time and space, from the everyday to the cosmic, encountering, among other things, baseball, Reaganomics, daring lottery schemes, Voltaire, the replicability crisis in psychology, Italian Renaissance painting, artificial languages, the development of non-Euclidean geometry, the coming obesity apocalypse, Antonin Scalia’s views on crime and punishment, the psychology of slime molds, what Facebook can and can’t figure out about you, and the existence of God.

Ellenberg pulls from history as well as from the latest theoretical developments to provide those not trained in math with the knowledge they need. Math, as Ellenberg says, is “an atomic-powered prosthesis that you attach to your common sense, vastly multiplying its reach and strength.” With the tools of mathematics in hand, you can understand the world in a deeper, more meaningful way. How Not to Be Wrong will show you how.
Hacking the Kinect is the technogeek’s guide to developing software and creating projects involving the groundbreaking volumetric sensor known as the Microsoft Kinect. Microsoft’s release of the Kinect in the fall of 2010 startled the technology world by providing a low-cost sensor that can detect and track body movement in three-dimensional space. The Kinect set new records for the fastest-selling gadget of all time. It has been adopted worldwide by hobbyists, robotics enthusiasts, artists, and even some entrepreneurs hoping to build business around the technology.

Hacking the Kinect introduces you to programming for the Kinect. You’ll learn to set up a software environment, stream data from the Kinect, and write code to interpret that data. The progression of hands-on projects in the book leads you even deeper into an understanding of how the device functions and how you can apply it to create fun and educational projects. Who knows? You might even come up with a business idea. Provides an excellent source of fun and educational projects for a tech-savvy parent to pursue with a son or daughter Leads you progressively from making your very first connection to the Kinect through mastery of its full feature set Shows how to interpret the Kinect data stream in order to drive your own software and hardware applications, including robotics applications What you’ll learn How to create a software environment and connect to the Kinect from your PC How to create three-dimensional images from the Kinect data stream How to recognize and work around hardware limitations How to build computer interfaces in the style of "Minority Report" How to interact directly with objects in the virtual world The ins and outs of point clouds, voxel occupancy maps, depth images, and other fundamentals of volumetric sensor technology Who this book is for

Hacking the Kinect is aimed at makers of all types. Tech-savvy artists can use the Kinect to drive three-dimensional, interactive artwork. Robotics hobbyists can create robots capable of “seeing” and responding to human motion and gesture. Programmers can create applications in which users manipulate data through physical motion and gestures. The creative possibilities are limitless, and fun!

Hacking the Kinect does require some programming background. Familiarity with programming in C++ or similar languages is assumed. Readers should also be reasonably comfortable working with electronics—for example, with Arduino or similar equipment.

Table of Contents Introducing the Kinect Hardware Software Computer Vision Gesture Recognition Voxelization Introducing Point Clouds Enhancing Our Point Clouds Object Modeling and Detection Multiple Kinects
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