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Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"A beautiful subject": Review of three books. Reviewed by Andrew Bowler. New Scientist, 16 March 2002, page 48.

This brief piece reviews three popular books about mathematics: Mathematical Vistas, by Peter Hilton, Derek Holton, and Jean Pedersen; The Essential John Nash, edited by Harold Kuhn and Sylvia Nasar; and The Algorithmic Beauty of Seaweeds, Sponges and Corals, by Jaap Kaandorp and Janet K\"ubler. The reviewer considers whether these books might be useful in helping students, especially at the undergraduate level, get a better understanding of mathematics. He concludes that the approach of the first book ``seems well suited to undergraduate teaching,'' while the other two books would be more useful for undergraduate projects in mathematics. Mathematical Vistas covers a number of outstanding problems in matheamtics, such as the Four-Color Theorem and Fermat's Last Theorem. The Algorithmic Beauty of Seaweeds, Sponges and Corals discusses the modeling and growth of certain organisms; it's ``sketchy on the maths,'' the reviewer writes, but has ``many wonderful illustrations.'' The Essential John Nash consists of a collection of the most significant papers written by the mathematician and Nobel Laureate John Nash.

--- Allyn Jackson