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Five-Minute Mathematics
Ehrhard Behrends, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Translated by David Kramer

2008; 380 pp; softcover
ISBN-10: 0-8218-4348-6
ISBN-13: 978-0-8218-4348-2
List Price: US$38
Member Price: US$30.40
Order Code: MBK/53
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How much math can you cover in five minutes? Quite a bit, if you have a good guide. In this collection of one hundred short essays, Ehrhard Behrends offers a tour through contemporary and everyday mathematics. The topics range from pure mathematics to applications of mathematics to observations about the mathematics that surrounds us in daily life. Here, we read about the parable of grains of rice on a chessboard, the mathematics of the lottery, music and mathematics, intriguing paradoxes, the concept of infinity, the Poincaré conjecture, quantum computers, and plenty more.

Anyone who regularly reads the science section of a newspaper or magazine will find much to enjoy in Five-Minute Mathematics. Behrends makes very few assumptions about his readers, other than general curiosity and some familiarity with high school mathematics.

The vignettes originally appeared in the author's newspaper column. They have been extensively revised and expanded, and provided with attractive illustrations and photographs.


Undergraduates, graduate students, and research mathematicians interested in general topics in mathematics; the mathematics of everyday life.


"This book, a breath of fresh air, makes mathematics a delight and fun for almost any reader. ... I highly recommend this book for any teacher looking for a way to get students interested in mathematics--again or for the first time."

-- Joyce Fischer, for NCTM's "Mathematics Teacher"

"The book has remarkable breadth. It covers probability theory, number theory, the history of mathematics, finance, computer science, topology, music, famous numbers, and on and on. ... This book is sure to be enjoyed by everyone who loves mathematics. With chapters 3-5 pages long, it is the perfect book to read before bedtime, on the beach, or on the train or bus while commuting to work or school."

-- MAA Reviews

"The columns have been carefully revised and extra material has been added when this seemed appropriate. The columns are a delight to read. They range very widely through mathematics. He has certainly raised public awareness with these fine columns, which are clearly and engagingly written, and he does not shy away from difficult topics whenhe can find a way to explain them at an appropriate level."

-- LMS Newsletter

"One of the main achievements of this book, in the reviewer's opinion, is the fact that sophisticated mathematical ideas are presented in an accessible manner. The applications of mathematics are given much consideration, but the reader will also gain an appreciation for the beauty and power of the subject and the enjoyment that can be had from engaging with it. This book is aimed at the general reader and would be an excellent resource for mathematics teachers or anyone engaged in communicating mathematics to the general public."

-- Zentralblatt MATH

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