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Lewis Carroll in Numberland


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About the Author

Robin Wilson is the author and editor of 30 books, including the critically acclaimed Four Colours Suffice and is head of the Pure Mathematics Department at the Open University and, in London, Gresham Professor of Geometry, the oldest mathematics chair in England. He is also a fellow in mathematics at Keble College, Oxford.


British mathematician Wilson (Four Colors Suffice) paints a charming picture of Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, in this slender biography. Skipping over the most chronicled aspects of Dodgson's life with only a sharp side note deriding rumors of his pedophilia as "bad history and bad psychology," Wilson focuses on Dodgson's mathematical and educational accomplishments: pamphlets and books on Euclid, an efficient way of calculating determinants, astute analysis of election methods, and systems of mnemonics and ciphers. Wilson also includes puzzles (some with unsatisfying solutions); a number of Dodgson's photographs, for which Wilson labels him "one of the most important photographers of the nineteenth century"; and humorous and satirical letters suggesting political postulates such as, "Let it be granted, that a speaker may digress from any one point to any other point." Though Dodgson was apparently not always a brilliant teacher or writer in his field, Wilson chooses some of his best work for the examples, and any fan of Victorian mind-benders or mid-level mathematics will enjoy the Dodo's witty and eager explanations of logical puzzles and games. 100 illus. (Nov.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

'A fascinating story ... Wilson could not be better qualified to write a book on [Carroll's] career in numbers' - Jonathan Bate, Sunday Telegraph 'First-rate ... Wilson conjures the spirit of a man who delighted in paradox' Nature 'A loving mathematician's biography ! revel in the unravelling of an intricate and exquisite mind' Independent 'A delightful blend of whimsy, satire, endlessly ingenious puns, brain-teasers and unexpected (but very accessible) mathematical insights' - Matthew Reisz, The Times Higher Education Supplement

Oxford Fellow Wilson, head of pure mathematics at England's Open University, shows how Carroll's mathematical genius and his imagination were intertwined. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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