Cover: Measurement, from Harvard University PressCover: Measurement in PAPERBACK


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Product Details


$20.50 • £16.95 • €18.50

ISBN 9780674284388

Publication: May 2014

Academic Trade

416 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

416 line illustrations

Belknap Press


This invitation to tackle mathematical questions is infused with the joys of the rarefied reality of maths. Paul Lockhart largely avoids complex formulae and the wilder shores of jargon, opting instead for simple geometric drawings, lucid instructions and honest warnings about the hurdles. Covering size, shape, space and time, Lockhart, a maths teacher, gets through scores of problems, from showing that a cone in a hemisphere occupies half the volume to determining the size of the largest circle that can sit at the bottom of a parabola. Elegant, amusing and challenging.Nature

Lockhart is famous in the math world for a 2002 essay about the state of mathematics teaching. He described it as akin to teaching music by forcing children to transcribe notation without ever touching an instrument or singing. Measurement is his attempt to change the equation: a conversational book about mathematics as an art that invites the reader to join in the fun. Sounding every bit the teacher whose love for his subject is infectious, he guides us through exercises in geometry and calculus—giving information and hints along the way while always encouraging us to ask, and answer, ‘Why?’ Lockhart does not try to make math seem easy; instead he wants his readers to understand that the difficulty brings rewards.—Evelyn Lamb, Scientific American

This book forced me to use mental muscles I haven’t exercised in a long time, but it felt fantastic! Paul Lockhart is a mathematics evangelist; his passion for his subject is evident on every page, in every line. Looking at the subject of Measurement, he takes the reader on a journey that covers geometry, algebra, trigonometry, and on through differential calculus. He has a conversational tone and self-deprecating humor that sets the reader at ease. He understands that many people have been turned off of mathematics. His attitude is playful and joyous… Math is usually taught in such a compartmentalized way that it loses any meaning or coherence, and certainly any sense of wonder or beauty, but Measurement restores the connection. Paul Lockhart feels that math is the most beautiful, abstract and pure art form, and that it is actually fun! By the end of the book, you come to agree with him.—Gretchen Wagner, Sacramento Book Review

Prospective readers should rest assured that while aimed at the nonexpert, Lockhart’s writing is sophisticated and mathematically modern… In place of the usual boxed and high-lighted formulas and tricks, Measurement offers questions to be pondered. Lockhart invites readers to trade tutorial fake problems about actual objects, which lead students to abhor school mathematics, for real problems about fantastical objects, which lead mathematicians to love math.—Brie Finegold, Science

There are many books available these days on what mathematicians do, and this is one of the best… Lockhart’s approach is fresh and effective.—C. A. Gorini, Choice

Lockhart presents math as an art and argues that just as there is no systematic way to create beautiful and meaningful art, there is also no method for producing beautiful and meaningful mathematical arguments. Doing mathematics, according to Lockhart, is to make a discovery (by, say, physical objects like string or rubber bands) and then to explain it in the simplest and most elegant way possible. Using illustrations of various shapes and mathematical formulas, he leads readers through several problems step by step, encouraging them to collaborate with others in working through the problem. Measuring, for example, is relative because it involves comparing the object being measured to another object. Measurement is only one of the many rivers in the ‘vast, ever-expanding jungle’ of mathematics, which for Lockhart satisfies our need to find patterns as well as our curiosity… His playful and ingenious approach not only takes the fear out of math but also elegantly illustrates that universe and the joy he finds in it.Publishers Weekly

The book is a love song and a philosophical manifesto about the pleasures and frustrations, but mainly the pleasures, of doing math.—Steven Strogatz, New York Times contributor and author of The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity

No matter what mathematical education you had, or didn’t have, you will be delighted by this enticing book if you take up Paul Lockhart’s invitation to engage in the mathematical sensibility that radiates from its pages, and try your own hand—not only at answering, but even more fruitfully, at formulating questions as you explore the world of mathematics.—Barry Mazur, author of Imagining Numbers (Particularly the Square Root of Minus Fifteen)