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What is math? How exactly does it work? And what do three siblings trying to share a cake have to do with it? In How to Bake Pi, math professor Eugenia Cheng provides an accessible introduction to the logic and beauty of mathematics, powered, unexpectedly, by insights from the kitchen: we learn, for example, how the bechamel in a lasagna can be a lot like the number 5, and why making a good custard proves that math is easy but life is hard. Of course, it's not all about cooking; we'll also run the New York and Chicago marathons, take a closer look at St. Paul's Cathedral, pay visits to Cinderella and Lewis Carroll, and even get to the bottom of why we think of a tomato as a vegetable. At the heart of it all is Cheng's work on category theory, a cutting-edge "mathematics of mathematics, " that is about figuring out how math works. This is not the math of our high school classes: seen through category theory, mathematics becomes less about numbers and formulas and more about how we know, believe, and understand anything, including whether our brother took too much cake. Many of us think that math is hard, but, as Cheng makes clear, math is actually designed to make difficult things easier. Combined with her infectious enthusiasm for cooking and a true zest for life, Cheng's perspective on math becomes this singular book: a funny, lively, and clear journey through a vast territory no popular book on math has explored before. How to Bake Pi offers a whole new way to think about a field all of us think we know; it will both dazzle the constant reader of popular mathematics and amuse and enlighten even the most hardened math-phobe.So, what is math? Let's look for the answer in the kitchen.

Publisher:
[New York] : Basic Books, 2015.

Characteristics:
1 online resource

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## Comment

Add a CommentThis book is a bitter in the mouth disappointment at the end since it makes the claim that Category Theory (Mathematics of Mathematics) serves the purpose of illumination (WHY: understanding versus knowledge) but there is no way you will come out with a feel on why this claim is a honest/trustworthy claim. I give author the credit for setting the stage for making this grand claim of light (of understanding) -- just that there is no illumination on illumination ...

The author shows the roots of her love for mathematics and this is the most important message that I got from this book.

I've had a Goldilocks relationship with math books: some are too hard to follow (Love and Math by Edward Frenkel, for instance), a few are the right level and some are too easy. This book definitively falls into the last category. If you've done your high school maths, you are amply qualified to follow and read the book. Cheng gives a few interesting applications and metaphors that keep you going. Overall, the book is a pretty light read, which is quite a feat considering the subject at large (and no, that's not a bad thing!). I was also disappointed, as someone who had watched all of Cheng's video capsules and as someone who enjoys cooking, to see that the book lacked cooking references. Where were the Mobius strip bagels? The using of actual pies to explain π?