Monday, August 8, 2011

The Joy of Pi

by David Blatner
New York : Walker and Co., 1997.

This is a quirky history of pi in 130 pages. From the ancients to the modern day, the number that would be able to decipher a circle's circumference by its known radius has fascinated mathematicians. Blatner discusses a variety of history revolving around pi, including the development of equations to calculate it and devices people use to memorize it to several decimal points.

The first thing that drew me to the book was its design. Its cover is yellow, square, and just a bit bigger than the old Beatrix Potter books I read as a young child. Peppered throughout the text are tidbits of information highlighted in squares, rectangles, or circles a different color from the page. And - the most fun aspect of it, in my opinion - throughout the text is, as if a footnote, is pi calculated to one million decimal places. Because most of the information is accessible to a layperson, I was willing to overlook the many equations that went completely over my head.

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