Sunday, August 30, 2020

"Supermath: The Power of Numbers for Good and Evil"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Supermath: The Power of Numbers for Good and Evil by Anna Weltman.

About the book, from the publisher:

Explore the hidden powers of math that shape us, influencing everything from our sense of justice to our perception of beauty.

Archaeologists decoding ancient messages. Epidemiologists analyzing the spread of a contagious disease. African Americans seeking full enfranchisement in a society that has worked to exclude them. A family doing puzzles at the kitchen table. These scenarios seem to have little in common. But in fact, each of these groups is faced with a multifaceted challenge—and each is using math to solve it.

In Supermath, popular author and educator Anna Weltman showcases the incredible power of mathematics when people apply it outside of the world of pure numbers, introducing it into the realms of science, politics, history, education, and art. Her stories share how math has protected us from war and disease, helped us communicate across time and space, and made the world a fairer and more beautiful place. But Weltman also warns us that dangers arise when the transformative might of numbers goes unchecked. Mathematics has been used to mistranslate records, silence indigenous communities, create gerrymandered voting districts, close the gates of higher education. Sometimes, math can blind those who wield it to its limitations, causing those who would deploy it to solve problems to instead create more.

Drawing on history and current events, Weltman tackles five fascinating questions: Is math the universal language? Can math eliminate bias? Can math predict the next move? Can math open doors? And finally, What is genuine beauty? Supermath is an enlightening book that pursues complex lines of mathematical thought while providing a fascinating lens into global problems and human culture as a whole.
--Marshal Zeringue