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Supermath

The Power of Numbers for Good and Evil

Anna Weltman

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Explore the hidden powers of math that shape us, influencing everything from our sense of justice to our perception of beauty.

Archaeologists decoding ancient messages. Epidemiologists analyzing the spread of a contagious disease. African Americans seeking full enfranchisement in a society that has worked to exclude them. A family doing puzzles at the kitchen table. These scenarios seem to have little in common. But in fact, each of these groups is faced with a multifaceted challenge—and each is using math to solve it.

In Supermath, popular author and educator Anna Weltman showcases the…

Explore the hidden powers of math that shape us, influencing everything from our sense of justice to our perception of beauty.

Archaeologists decoding ancient messages. Epidemiologists analyzing the spread of a contagious disease. African Americans seeking full enfranchisement in a society that has worked to exclude them. A family doing puzzles at the kitchen table. These scenarios seem to have little in common. But in fact, each of these groups is faced with a multifaceted challenge—and each is using math to solve it.

In Supermath, popular author and educator Anna Weltman showcases the incredible power of mathematics when people apply it outside of the world of pure numbers, introducing it into the realms of science, politics, history, education, and art. Her stories share how math has protected us from war and disease, helped us communicate across time and space, and made the world a fairer and more beautiful place. But Weltman also warns us that dangers arise when the transformative might of numbers goes unchecked. Mathematics has been used to mistranslate records, silence indigenous communities, create gerrymandered voting districts, close the gates of higher education. Sometimes, math can blind those who wield it to its limitations, causing those who would deploy it to solve problems to instead create more.

Drawing on history and current events, Weltman tackles five fascinating questions: Is math the universal language? Can math eliminate bias? Can math predict the next move? Can math open doors? And finally, What is genuine beauty? Supermath is an enlightening book that pursues complex lines of mathematical thought while providing a fascinating lens into global problems and human culture as a whole.

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Supermath

Anna Weltman

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Reviews

Reviews

Weltman's book can be read as a call for scholars, educators, and communicators of mathematics to grapple with the power our training and credentialing in mathematics grants us, and to understand that its most basic promise of solving problems is not automatic but one that we must realize.

This friendly, generalist book is a fun and easy read for anyone interested in mathematics, whether they have a strong background in the subject or not. More importantly, though, it's a thought-provoking look at the not-so-secret human side of mathematics.

...the essays are worthwhile reads that are thought-provoking.

Touching enthusiastically on a number of big, important, and hot topics in mathematics, STEM, and academia, Supermath is refreshing and different. This is a book that I will often reference and pull off the shelf!

Anna Weltman weaves a powerful argument that the practice of mathematics is culturally embedded and has the ability to shape society for the better if wielded thoughtfully and by a more diverse group of practitioners. Supermath presents a mathematics that is expansive, political, and beautiful—in other words, a mathematics that is humanized.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
240
ISBN
9781421438191
Illustration Description
1 b&w photo, 15 line drawings
Table of Contents

Preface
Chapter 1. Is Math the Universal Language? Math and the Problem of Communicating across Cultures
Chapter 2. Can Math Predict the Next Move? Math and the Problem of Winning (or Not Losing, at

Preface
Chapter 1. Is Math the Universal Language? Math and the Problem of Communicating across Cultures
Chapter 2. Can Math Predict the Next Move? Math and the Problem of Winning (or Not Losing, at Least)
Chapter 3. Can Math Eliminate Bias? Math and the Problem of Fairness
Chapter 4. Can Math Open Doors? Math and the Problem of Opportunity
Chapter 5. What Is Genuine Beauty? Math and the Problem of Perception
References
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Anna Weltman

Anna Weltman is a math teacher and writer who earned her PhD in mathematics education from the University of California at Berkeley. She is the author of This Is Not a Math Book and This Is Not Another Math Book.