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Kathy's Pick: How to Bake Pi by Eugenia Chang


A math expert uses cooking to shed light on the heart of mathematics.

Using a recipe for Clotted Cream as a case in point, Eugenia Cheng begins her book explaining why 5 myths about Math are not accurate, and then goes on to analyze and define exactly “What is Math?” Each chapter starts with a recipe, some more elaborate than others, to illustrate key concepts about how we use Mathematics in the real world. Step-by-step solutions are shown for all the equations used, with numerous examples given to help with comprehension.

The focus of the first part of the book is Math. Its principles, processes, axioms and generalizations are explored, dissected and translated into cooking terms, applied to online dating, and visualized as doughnuts. Cheng illustrates the difference between internal and external motivation using tourism and a 3-hour clock. She shows the influence of logic in mathematics and how it can alter and even limit certain mathematical situations. In the second part of the book, Category Theory is broken down into the structure, relationships, context, and sameness of groups or sets of objects. Cheng states: “Mathematics is there to make difficult things easy … Category Theory is there to make difficult mathematics easy.”

Cheng’s love of Math shows in her exuberant and sometimes hilarious explanations of concepts such as understanding the principles of simplification and abstraction. This fun book, written in an upbeat and entertaining style, demystifies the world of Mathematics and encourages you to look at the real world through the eyes of a mathematician.

- Kathy, Cataloging Librarian

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