# Mathematical Digest

### Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics

in the Popular Press

"How Not to Solve It": Review of *The Random Walks of George Polya,* byGerald Alexanderson, and *Mathematical Fallacies, Flaws, and Flimflam,* byEdward J. Barbeau. Reviewed by William J. Thompson. *AmericanScientist,* September-October 2000, pages 465-466.

The first of the two books under review is a "carefully researched hagiography"of the mathematician George Polya, who is perhaps most famous for his book*How To Solve It.* "Polya emphasized clear understanding and presentationof mathematical proofs," the reviewer writes, so it is appropriate to reviewthe book about him together with a book that discusses erroneous mathematicalresults. Although the reviewer wishes the biography had more analysis ofPolya's methods and less emphasis on chronology and personal details, he writesthat "this is a good book, well worth the price and the time needed to readit." The reviewer also likes the other book and suggests that reading ittogether with Polya's *How to Solve It* would help one to "understand thepower and pitfalls of Polya's methods."

*--- Allyn Jackson*