Mathematics for the Million – Lancelot Hogben ***. June 20, This is one of the strangest maths books you are ever likely to encounter. Written in the s. Mathematics for the Million has ratings and 20 reviews. Taking only the most elementary knowledge for granted, Lancelot Hogben leads readers of this. “It makes alive the contents of the elements of mathematics.”—Albert Einstein. Taking only the most elementary knowledge for granted, Lancelot Hogben leads .

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October 1, in Uncategorized. As a new regular feature of the HPM Newsletter, members of the HPM community will be mathhematics to name a book or books, or a paper that has been important to them and to give their reasons for this.

I was asked recently how I had become interested in the history of mathematics. I read it while starting the more advanced mathematics courses at school and for the first time I found a book about mathematics that was not a recipe book for manipulating mathematical expressions.

Mathematics for the Million: How to Master the Magic of Numbers

To be fair a little more than following rules is required for higher school mathematics, but not much more. The striking thing about the book is that the mathematics is presented from the outset as an historical development.

The customary way of writing a book about mathematics is to show how each step follows logically from the one before without telling you what use there will be in taking it. Hogben claims to assume in the reader no more than an elementary knowledge of mathematics and he certainly starts from hogbfn and simple geometry.

But a familiarity with algebraic manipulation is necessary almost from the outset. By mjllion end of the book we meet almost all the mathematics that was then part of advanced mathematics in British schools prior to university. There was a new edition in and thd going out of print it was surprisingly reissued in paperback format by the left wing publisher Merlin Press in but is no longer in their list.

How does it stand the test of time? The first thing I noticed on rereading it was the confident and optimistic tone of the writing. It is unashamedly Whiggish in style. Science has lacnelot enormous progress since the Stone Age and mathematics is the tool that allowed such progress. Hogben also claims that mathematics is essentially a language about size.

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It enables us to calculate and measure. He is dismissive of the Plato school of philosophical reflections about the nature of number. That line only leads to mysticism. Mathematics is no use unless it makes things happen. As far as Greek science is concerned, the centre is Alexandria and Hogben is careful enough to insist on the description Alexandrian and to point out that the only thing that the mix of peoples associated with Alexandria had in common was their use of the Greek language.

The book claims to teach mathematics through tracing its story of development. In fact it sets out to be a teaching book the author advises us to have paper and pencil to hand. It is carefully constructed in terms of increasing levels of mathematical demands and starts with simple arithmetic and geometry and ends with applications of the calculus and a final chapter on statistics and probability.

In keeping with its time, there is a quite a lot about the use of determinants but no appearance of a matrix. For my part, when I used the book, it almost exactly mirrored what I was studying at school but with the advantage of a wider context, more interesting problems and some indication of history.

In fact the economic or military stimuli to new mathematical discoveries is evident. For its mathematical content, I would certainly recommend the book to any budding mathematician.

And the reward is a number of delights, including this instruction from the British Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries on how to lay out a right angle for a plantation of fruit trees:. The 24th link is pegged at the point from which the right angle is to be set out, the nought end of the chain and the 96th link are pegged together, back along the base line, so that the piece of chain is taut. If the 56th link is taken in the direction required until both the sections and are taut, then the point reached will be at right angles to the base line.

So we have a Finally, a word about Hogben himself, which would have impressed me even more had I known it at the time I read his book. Hogben, largely self-educated at Stoke Newington Public Library, was an experimental zoologist and medical statistician lancdlot trade. During mafhematics First World War he served as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross in France but after his decision to leave the Front and return to Cambridge he was imprisoned in as a conscientious objector.


He married the mathematician and feminist Enid Charles, a statistician who worked on fertility rates. Both spoke against the then fashionable idea of eugenics. But both books, enormously popular as they were, were incidental to his main work in biology and statistics.

The Hogben archive is housed at Birmingham University. February 23, at Am a kenyan citizen doing Bachelor of science in one of the universities in Kenya. You are commenting using your Jogben. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Enter your email milllon to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. HPM Newsletter history and pedagogy of mathematics.

And the reward is a number of delights, including this instruction from the British Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries on how to lay out a right angle for a plantation of fruit trees: Leave a Reply Cancel reply Mathematocs your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Email required Address never made public.

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Mathematics for the Million: How to Master the Magic of Numbers by Lancelot Hogben

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