The book of numbers. (English) Zbl 0866.00001

Berlin: Springer-Verlag. ix, 310 p. (1996).
In ‘The book of numbers’, Conway and Guy explore the many ways in which the word “number” is used. Their intended audience is the inquisitive reader without any particular mathematical background. However, there is much in this book of value to the professional mathematician as well – new things, old things in unusual contexts, and the fascinating collision of old and new.
This is a book that rewards browsing. Teachers who read or browse here will find ideas, information, examples and even some pedagogical tools that will enrich their courses. The authors are playful, punning, and humorous, and their enthusiasm is contagious.
There are three main threads to the story. One is the development and enlargement of the idea of number from the counting numbers to cardinal, ordinal, and surreal numbers. Another is the special study of the integers and special sets or sequences of numbers such as prime numbers, Fibonacci numbers, and Bernoulli numbers. The third thread is the study of special numbers such as \(e,\pi\), Euler’s number \(\gamma\), Feigenbaum’s constant, and the like.
The first chapter – on number words – is worth the price of the book on its own. Browse and enjoy!


00A05 Mathematics in general
00-01 Introductory exposition (textbooks, tutorial papers, etc.) pertaining to mathematics in general