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Szpiro (a journalist who also writes a monthly column on mathematics for the Swiss daily newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung) takes the general reader on a tour of the mathematical puzzles and paradoxes inherent in voting systems, such as the Alabama Paradox, in which an increase in the number of seats in the Congress could actually lead to a reduced number of representatives for a state, and the Condorcet Paradox, which demonstrates that the winner of elections featuring more than two candidates does not necessarily reflect majority preferences. Szpiro takes a roughly chronological approach to the topic, travelling from ancient Greece to the present and, in addition to offering explanations of the various mathematical conundrums of elections and voting, also offers biographical details on the mathematicians and other thinkers who thought about them, including Plato, Pliny the Younger, Pierre Simon Laplace, Thomas Jefferson, John von Neumann, and Kenneth Arrow. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)
Options have been traded for hundreds of years, but investment decisions were based on gut feelings until the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the Black-Scholes options pricing model in 1973 ushered in the era of the "quants. " Wall Street would never be the same. InPricing the Future, financial economist George G. Szpiro tells the fascinating stories of the pioneers of mathematical finance who conducted the search for the elusive options pricing formula. From the broker's assistant who published the first mathematical explanation of financial markets to Albert Einstein and other scientists who looked for a way to explain the movement of atoms and molecules,Pricing the Futureretraces the historical and intellectual developments that ultimately led to the widespread use of mathematical models to drive investment strategies on Wall Street.
Most of us picture mathematicians laboring before a chalkboard, scribbling numbers and obscure symbols as they mutter unintelligibly. This lighthearted (but realistic) sneak-peak into the everyday world of mathematicians turns that stereotype on its head.Most people have little idea what mathematicians do or how they think. It’s often difficult to see how their seemingly arcane and esoteric work applies to our own everyday lives. But mathematics also holds a special allure for many people. We are drawn to its inherent beauty and fascinated by its complexity—but often intimidated by its presumed difficulty. The Secret Life of Numbers opens our eyes to the joys of mathematics, introducing us to the charming, often whimsical side, of the discipline. Divided into several parts, the book looks at interesting and largely unknown historical tidbits, introduces the largerthan- life practitioners of mathematics through the ages, profiles some of the most significant unsolved conjectures, and describes problems and puzzles that have already been solved. Rounding out the table of contents is a host of mathematical miscellany—all of which add up to 50 fun, sometimes cheeky, shorttakes on the field. Chock full of stories, anecdotes, and entertaining vignettes, The Secret Life of Numbers shows us how mathematics really does affect almost every aspect of life—from the law to geography, elections to botany—and we come to appreciate the delight and gratification that mathematics holds for all of us.
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