Friday, September 19, 2014

New: Knots and Borromean Rings, Rep-Tiles, and Eight Queens

Knots and Borromean Rings, Rep-Tiles, and Eight Queens
Knots and Borromean Rings, Rep-Tiles, and Eight Queens
Martin Gardner

Martin Gardner's fifteen volumes about Mathematical Games are The Canon – timeless classics that are always worth reading and rereading. —Don Knuth

I recommend you approach this book on a Sunday afternoon with paper and pen a few biscuits for brain-power and a good hour to spare for puzzling. It is worth it. —Charlotte Mulcare, +plus Magazine

The hangman’s paradox, cat’s cradle, gambling, peg solitaire, pi and e—all these and more are back in Martin Gardner’s inimitable style, with updates on new developments and discoveries. Read about how knots and molecules are related; take a trip into the fourth dimension; try out new dissections of stars, crosses, and polygons; and challenge yourself with new twists on classic games.

This volume includes updates by Martin Gardner, Peter Renz, Greg Frederickson, and Erica Flapan. New illustrations have been included and replace some of the older illustrations. The references have been updated.

Friday, September 5, 2014

MAA Top Selling Books

Check out this year's top 15 bestsellers.

1. 101 Careers in Mathematics, 3rd Ed
Andrew Sterrett, Editor

2. Math through the Ages
William Berlinghoff and Fernando GouvĂȘa

3. Game Theory and Strategy
Philip D. Straffin, Jr.

4. Mathematical Interest Theory
Leslie Jane Federer Vaaler & James Daniel

5. New Horizons in Geometry
Tom M. Apostol and Mamikon A. Mnatsakanian

6. Learning Modern Algebra
Al Cuoco and Joseph Rotman

7. Number Theory through Inquiry
David C. Marshall, Edward Odell, & Michael Starbird

8. Geometry Revisited
H.S.M. Coxeter & S.L. Greitzer

9. Exploring Advanced Euclidean Geometry with GeoGebra
Gerard Venema

10. First Steps for Math Olympians
J. Douglas Faires

11. Mathematics for Secondary School Teachers
Elizabeth George Bremigan, Ralph Bremigan, and John Lorch

12. Beyond the Quadratic Formula
Ron Irving

13. Combinatorics:
A Guided Tour

David R. Mazur

14. Ordinary Differential Equations: From Calculus to Dynamical Systems
Virginia W. Noonburg

15. Functions, Data, and Models
Sheldon P. Gordon and Florence S. Gordon

Friday, August 15, 2014

MAA Books Beat: Teaching Isn't the Only Job for Math Majors

Written by Steve Kennedy, MAA Books Beat is a column written for MAA FOCUSTeaching Isn't the Only Job for Math Majors appears in the August/September issue.

Teaching Isn’t the Only Job for Math Majors

“What would I do with a math degree? I don’t want to teach.” That anyone would ask this question has flummoxed me for years. When I was younger I was tempted (and sometimes succumbed to the temptation) to explain that one does not study mathematics for its possible future income potential. One studies mathematics because it is mankind’s only portal to absolute truth. Science deals in, as its best, approximations to truth; the humanities in speculation; the arts obscure as much as they reveal. Mathematics, using just the power of your mid, reveals eternal, and external to us, absolute truth.

I’m older now, and hopefully wiser, and not only do I see the value in what science, humanities, and the arts illuminate, but also, I see the legitimacy of the question itself. I too can now talk about the many interesting careers my former students have taken up: Nutty Steph, who started a granola company; Kate, who became a dog-musher leading winter tours of northern Minnesota; Liz, who was Stephen Wolfram’s personal assistant. Unfortunately, as the examples illustrate, I tend to remember the unusual and offbeat options.

Details about “Best Job”

CareerCast recently listed “mathematician” as the Best Job of 2014 (university professor, statistician, and actuary round out the top four). This made a nice blurb in our department newsletter, but they didn’t provide an awful lot of detail about what kind of jobs these folks are looking at. Fortunately, we have Andy Sterrett. Andy has been tracking down mathematics graduates with interesting careers and compiling their stories in 101 Careers in Mathematics for more than a decade. The third edition is just out. I’ll give some highlights to share with your students wondering what to do with a math degree.

Alysia Appell has degrees from Grand Valley State University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is in charge of the pilot-staffing model for Northwest/Delta Airlines; that means she needs to forecast the airline’s future needs to hire pilots and plan how to cover all flights given predicted vacations and illnesses of current flight staff.

Joel Schneider has degrees from Franklin and Marshall, Washington State, and the University of Oregon. He was the content director for Square One TV, a children’s TV show that aired in the 1990s. Square One has echoes of Sesame Street but was focused on mathematics. My personal favorite bit was “Mathnet,” a Dragnet parody that featured a detective named Monday who was interested in just the facts as she solved mathematical mysteries. Schneider is still in TV, now producing a mathematical game show called Risky Numbers.

Kay Strain King has degrees from Vanderbilt, Makerere (Uganda), and Texas A&M universities. She is a senior environmental mathematician for Theta Engineering. She does mathematical consulting on environmental problems. In her article in 101 Careers, she describes a project to model gas release from a bermed storage tank under various weather conditions.

I bought a copy of 101 Careers to put in our department’s student reading nook. I’m thinking I should buy another copy for my desk. If you teach and advise undergraduates and sometimes find yourself confronting the question with which I opened this column, you should buy one as well.

(By the way, we have already started collecting material for the next edition of 101 Careers. If you are, or know, someone with an interesting mathematical career, please contact Deanna Haunsperger at

Monday, August 4, 2014

MAA Pavilion Events 2014 (#MAAthFest)

In Portland, OR for MAA MathFest 2014 this week? Stop by the MAA Pavilion in the exhibit hall and check out our events and book deals:

Sweet Treats
Come by the MAA Pavilion on Thursday, August 7 at 2:30 pm and enjoy a sweet treat or two while browsing our books.

3 Books, 3 Days
Returning to MAA MathFest 2014, follow us on twitter daily at the times below and be the first to find out our special sale titles. Pick up your copy at the MAA Pavilion before they're gone!

August 7 @ 3:14 pm: Special Sale Title for $4
August 8 @ 2:30 pm: Special Sale Title for $5
August 9 @ 10:00 am: Special Sale Title for $6

Euler Tercentenary Collection
Special Offer: Our special collector's edition of the Euler Tercentenary Collection five volumes is on sale for only $40!

Publications Survey
Let us know how we are doing. Fill out the survey and return it to the MAA Pavilion by 5:00 pm on Friday, August 8, for a chance to win an MAA book. The winner will be notified and will be able to pick up their prize on Saturday.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@MAAthFest) to stay up-to-date on all MAA MathFest events.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Teaching a Modern ODE Course

Attending MAA MathFest 2014 in Portland, Oregon? Stop by this informational session on teaching a modern ODE course.

Hilton and Executive Tower
22nd Floor
Mount St. Helens Suite
Friday, August 8

The differential equations course has changed radically over the last quarter century.  Easy access to powerful computation has enabled visualization to play a much larger role. The increasing mathematization of the life sciences has greatly expanded the kinds of models available for investigation. The advent of dynamical systems has made new kinds of questions imaginable and accessible. A modern ODE course has to take all this progress into account, though it is perhaps not clear exactly how to do so.  Anne NoonburgUniversity of Hartford and author of OrdinaryDifferential Equations from Calculus to Dynamical Systems―and Steve Kennedy―Carleton College and MAA Books Sr. Acquisitions Editorwill lead a discussion focused on how best to react to these changes in your ODE course. We will ask such questions as:
  • What is the appropriate role of modeling in the ODE course?
  • How do we balance the needs of physics, biology and engineering majors in the course?
  • What are good sources of deep and interesting models?
  • How much emphasis on numerical methods is appropriate?
  • Similarly how much dynamical systems theory and visualization?
  • What is the appropriate role of technology and what are good choices?
  • Is a Linear Algebra prerequisite necessary, or can the needed material fit in the ODE course?