Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut in Math and Life (Hardcover)
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One of the world's great mathematicians shows why math is the ultimate timesaver—and how everyone can make their lives easier with a few simple shortcuts.
We are often told that hard work is the key to success. But success isn’t about hard work – it’s about shortcuts. Shortcuts allow us to solve one problem quickly so that we can tackle an even bigger one. They make us capable of doing great things. And according to Marcus du Sautoy, math is the very art of the shortcut.
Thinking Better is a celebration of how math lets us do more with less. Du Sautoy explores how diagramming revolutionized therapy, why calculus is the greatest shortcut ever invented, whether you must really practice for ten thousand hours to become a concert violinist, and why shortcuts give us an advantage over even the most powerful AI. Throughout, we meet artists, scientists, and entrepreneurs who use mathematical shortcuts to change the world.
Delightful, illuminating, and above all practical, Thinking Better is for anyone who has wondered why you should waste time climbing the mountain when you could go around it much faster.
About the Author
Marcus du Sautoy is the Simonyi professor for the public understanding of science and professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford. He is author of six books and a play I is a Strange Loop (in which he was also lead actor). He has presented numerous radio and TV series including a four-part landmark TV series for the BBC called The Story of Maths. He works extensively with a range of arts organizations bringing science alive for the public from The Royal Opera House to the Glastonbury Festival. du Sautoy is a fellow of the Royal Society, a recipient of the Berwick Prize, the Zeeman Medal, and the Michael Faraday Prize, and received an OBE for services to science. He lives in London.
“Du Sautoy is a gifted and tireless mathematical communicator with considerable range… This is a ‘greatest hits’ of mathematical ideas presented with trademark clarity and energy.”—Tim Harford, The Financial TImes
“Du Sautoy masterfully guides readers through complex math… All the while, he’s encouraging about the importance of problem-solving: ‘Mathematics is a mindset for navigating a complex world and finding the pathway to the other side.’ Math-minded readers will find much to consider.”—Publishers Weekly
“[Marcus du Sautoy is] one of the great contemporary popularizers of mathematics. In print, radio, and television, he is known for spreading the gospel that mathematics is endlessly interesting and a great deal of fun. His latest book, Thinking Better, is a prime example of his ability to communicate with a broad audience… As always, Du Sautoy opens the world of mathematics for those who are at least a little curious about what it offers.”
“In Thinking Better, Oxford mathematician Marcus Du Sautoy pulls back the curtain to show how mathematicians think. The result is an engaging, delightful adventure through a variety of situations where mathematical thinking – in particular, the search for clever shortcuts – illuminates deeper mathematical truths. And it turns out these short cuts are incredibly useful for the rest of us too!”—David Schwartz, author of The Last Man Who Knew Everything
“If mathematics has proved anything, it is that shortcuts can change the world. Marcus du Sautoy has created a smart, well-written and entertaining guide to the connecting tunnels, underpasses and other tricks we can use to traverse the trials of everyday life.” —Roger Highfield, journalist and author of The Dance of Life
“This is a book about shortcuts that takes no shortcut. It is chock-full of thought-provoking examples, ranging from the mathematical to the sociological.”—Melissa Franklin, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics, Harvard University
“Marcus du Sautoy compellingly answers the age-old plaint 'When am I going to use this?' with a wide-ranging tour of the real uses of mathematically-flavored thinking, in domains from the stock market to psychotherapy to modern sculpture."—Jordan Ellenberg, New York Times-bestselling author of Shape