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Steve Strogatz wins Euler Book Prize

Steven Strogatz

For a book that makes mathematical subjects “relevant, personal, important, far-reaching and fun,” Steven Strogatz has been awarded the 2014 Euler Book Prize by the Mathematical Association of America.

Strogatz, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics, was honored for his book, “The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity.” The book grew out of a New York Times column Strogatz wrote in 2010 that aimed to distill complex mathematical subjects into anecdotal, relatable materials for a lay audience.

The Euler Book Prize, the association states, is awarded to authors of “exceptionally well-written books with a positive impact on the public’s view of mathematics.”

book cover

“It means the world to me that my colleagues appreciate my attempt to help the wider public see what our subject is all about and why we love it so much,” Strogatz said.

Directed mainly at those who claim they never understood the mathematics they studied, “The Joy of x” addresses such subjects as grade-school arithmetic, high school algebra and geometry, and undergraduate-level math, with both humor and empathy for anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed by math.

It also offers something for mathematicians: 45 pages of notes with mathematical arguments, sketches of proofs, anecdotes and annotated references, and overviews of such contemporary math-related subjects as statistics, probability, Markov chains and group theory.

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