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


Add to Cart

Product Details


$14.95 • £10.95 • €13.50

ISBN 9780674237513

Publication Date: 07/15/2019


240 pages

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

58 illus.

Belknap Press


Arithmetic is inspiring and informative, and deserves to be widely read.—Jane Gleeson-White, The Wall Street Journal

Beginning with counting and moving through topics such as multiplication and fractions, Arithmetic provides a nuanced understanding of working with numbers, gently connecting procedures that we once learned by rote with intuitions long since muddled by education… Lockhart presents arithmetic as a pleasurable pastime, and describes it as a craft like knitting. Manipulating calculi on a tabula, you can see what he means.—Jonathon Keats, New Scientist

Once I started reading, the text proved mind-blowing. Some of the most ingrained and fundamental assumptions about the way we count and understand numbers are here deconstructed and shown to be arbitrary… For the mathematical layman, this book will be a very pleasant surprise… I am delighted to say that Lockhart is a fabulously entertaining writer, and that his light-hearted approach managed to keep me cheerfully engaged even when his discussions were most abstract… It’s in equal measures entertaining and educational, and a pleasant surprise on more levels than one.—Andrea Tallarita, PopMatters

More than just an informative survey of the fundamentals of basic arithmetic, this fun book offers a philosophical take on number systems and revels in the beauty of math.Science News

Today’s world is more dependent on numbers than at any time in human history, yet with the ready availability of cheap, reliable devices that handle computation, we have never had less need to master arithmetic. Our newfound freedom from the chore of hand computation makes it both possible and, Paul Lockhart argues in this wonderful new book, desirable to step back and reflect on the entire development of arithmetic over several millennia. What are numbers, how did they arise, why did our ancestors invent them, and how did they represent them? They are, after all, one of humankind’s most brilliant inventions, arguably having greater impact on our lives than the wheel. Lockhart recounts their fascinating story.—Keith Devlin, mathematician, author of The Man of Numbers and Finding Fibonacci

What an exuberant, exciting invitation to take joy in the wonderful human activity of counting, and to think deeply about its many origins. Marvelously personal, quite surprising at times, and fun to read.—Barry Mazur, Gerhard Gade University Professor at Harvard University, coauthor of Prime Numbers and the Riemann Hypothesis

Recent News

From Our Blog

Jacket, In Mrs. Tully’s Room: A Childcare Portrait by Vivian Gussin Paley, Harvard University Press

Remembering Vivian Gussin Paley

Renowned educator and author Vivian Gussin Paley died recently. Her former editor at Harvard University Press, Elizabeth Knoll, looks back on her life and work, which emphasized storytelling as an important tool in children’s learning. Vivian Gussin Paley was a small, gray-haired schoolteacher

‘manifold glories of classical Greek and Latin’

The digital Loeb Classical Library ( extends the founding mission of James Loeb with an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature.