Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Book Review: Punk Mathematics


So here is a book review about a book that hasn’t been written yet. No, I haven’t I figured out how to manipulate space-time by stepping into the future, I’m talking about a new book project that was recently posted on Kick Starter.com. You can check out the proposal by clicking on the widget. Maybe you’ll like it enough to make a pledge of your own.

Punk Mathematics is to be a book consisting of a series of mathematical stories. The author Tom Henderson describes it this way:

It is written for readers who are interested in having their minds expanded by the strange metaphors and implications of mathematics, even if they're not always on friendly terms with equations. Better living through probability; the fractal dimension of cities and cancers; using orders of magnitude to detect bullshit; free will and quantum economics; and the mathematics of cooperation in a networked world on the brink of a No Future collapse.
Sounds pretty surreal for a math book, but I’ll give Tom the benefit of the doubt. He is has a master’s degree in math from Portland State University and seems very committed to this project if the excellent project video is any gauge.

The way Kickstarter.com works is that accepted (read: considered worthy by the site’s owners) projects are featured on the site with a full description of the concept, a video and a list of pledge amounts and corresponding rewards if you decide to pledge a specific amount. Each person proposing a project decides on a goal amount. In this case Tom wants $2,400. If his project manages to meet or exceed the goal amount by a specific date, everyone’s credit card is charged, Tom gets his funding, and Kickstarter.com gets 10% of the proceeds. This is a pretty innovative resource for obtaining funding for your pet project. It’s free-market capitalism gone wild. Tom has done pretty well thus far, attracting over $11,000 as of today (he has 13 days to go). There is no upper limit of how much funding a project can secure.

Punk Mathematics has 8 different pledge amounts ranging from $2 for “a random index card from the first draft” to $400 for a “live performance” in the Portland area.

Most of the projects on Kickstarter.com have an artistic flavor, although there is a technology category where a project called “Diaspora” received 2006% of its goal amount for a whopping $200,641.84! I hope that Punk Mathematics results in a quality result. I’m rooting for Tom!

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