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"Quando será que vou usar isso?" Esta é a pergunta clássica de nove entre dez alunos às voltas com cálculos, fórmulas e equações. Para muitos, a matemática que aprendemos na escola é algo totalmente abstrato. O matemático Jordan Ellenberg mostra, porém, que a matemática está em todo lugar e se relaciona com questões do nosso cotidiano.
Com humor e irreverência, Ellenberg aborda de modo simples e claro os conceitos mais complicados, sem os jargões próprios da área. Nada escapa desse amplo mosaico: o resultado das eleições presidenciais, o futuro da obesidade, a pintura renascentista italiana, o que o Facebook sabe (e o que ele não sabe) a seu respeito e até mesmo a existência de Deus.
A matemática é a ciência de como não estar errado e nos ajuda a pensar melhor - aguça a intuição, afina a capacidade de julgamento, doma a incerteza e é uma ferramenta eficaz para entendermos o mundo de maneira mais profunda e consistente.
"Revigorante, lúcido e ao mesmo tempo rigoroso, o livro nos mostra como surgem as ideias matemáticas - e também como podemos começar a pensar matematicamente." The New York Times
"Os leitores serão surpreendidos pela frequência com que a matemática lança uma luz inesperada sobre a economia, a saúde e a política." Booklist
"Espirituoso, atraente e simplesmente gostoso de ler, esse livro vai ajudar você a explorar seus superpoderes matemáticos." Scientific American
"Fácil de acompanhar, apresentado com humor. O livro irá ajudá-lo a evitar as armadilhas que surgem quando não temos os instrumentos corretos." The Wall Street Journal
The math we learn in school can seem like a dull set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In How Not to Be Wrong, Jordan Ellenberg shows us how terribly limiting this view is: Math isn’t confined to abstract incidents that never occur in real life, but rather touches everything we do—the whole world is shot through with it.
Math allows us to see the hidden structures underneath the messy and chaotic surface of our world. It’s a science of not being wrong, hammered out by centuries of hard work and argument. Armed with the tools of mathematics, we can see through to the true meaning of information we take for granted: How early should you get to the airport? What does “public opinion” really represent? Why do tall parents have shorter children? Who really won Florida in 2000? And how likely are you, really, to develop cancer?
How Not to Be Wrong presents the surprising revelations behind all of these questions and many more, using the mathematician’s method of analyzing life and exposing the hard-won insights of the academic community to the layman—minus the jargon. Ellenberg chases mathematical threads through a vast range of time and space, from the everyday to the cosmic, encountering, among other things, baseball, Reaganomics, daring lottery schemes, Voltaire, the replicability crisis in psychology, Italian Renaissance painting, artificial languages, the development of non-Euclidean geometry, the coming obesity apocalypse, Antonin Scalia’s views on crime and punishment, the psychology of slime molds, what Facebook can and can’t figure out about you, and the existence of God.
Ellenberg pulls from history as well as from the latest theoretical developments to provide those not trained in math with the knowledge they need. Math, as Ellenberg says, is “an atomic-powered prosthesis that you attach to your common sense, vastly multiplying its reach and strength.” With the tools of mathematics in hand, you can understand the world in a deeper, more meaningful way. How Not to Be Wrong will show you how.
How should a democracy choose its representatives? How can you stop a pandemic from sweeping the world? How do computers learn to play chess, and why is learning chess so much easier for them than learning to read a sentence? Can ancient Greek proportions predict the stock market? (Sorry, no.) What should your kids learn in school if they really want to learn to think? All these are questions about geometry.
For real. If you're like most people, geometry is a sterile and dimly-remembered exercise you gladly left behind in the dust of 9th grade, along with your braces and active romantic interest in pop singers. If you recall any of it, it's plodding through a series of miniscule steps, only to prove some fact about triangles that was obvious to you in the first place. That's not geometry. OK, it is geometry, but only a tiny part, a border section that has as much to do with geometry in all its flush modern richness as conjugating a verb has to do with a great novel.
Shape reveals the geometry underneath some of the most important scientific, political, and philosophical problems we face. Geometry asks: where are things? Which things are near each other? How can you get from one thing to another thing? Those are important questions. The word "geometry," from the Greek, has the rather grand meaning of "measuring the world." If anything, that's an undersell. Geometry doesn't just measure the world - it explains it. Shape shows us how.