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The Calculus of Friendship:
What a Teacher and a Student Learned about Life while Corresponding about Math
Steven Strogatz

Book Description | Table of Contents
Prologue [in PDF format] | Chapter 1 [in PDF format]


"There is no better English-language explicator of complex quantitative concepts than Steven Strogatz. His work is a model for how mathematics needs to be popularized."--Michael Schrage, Harvard Business Review

"This story will draw in both the novice and the veteran. Teachers of mathematics will appreciate the long-term effect their teaching can have on students. The included mathematics can be related to both high school and undergraduate calculus sequences to demonstrate some interesting, thought-provoking, and 'big picture' connections to these courses."--Mathematics Teacher

"[A] beautiful book, bound to become a classic in the mathematical literature. . . . Like Hardy's A Mathematician's Apology, you don not have to know any mathematics whatsoever to read this book. It is a candid and all-too-human story told with brutal honesty, warts and all, sharing with the reader the elation and sincere regrets bound up in the relationship--but in the end, the victories, too. With some beautiful mathematics throughout!"--Lawrence S. Braden, Notices of the American Mathematical Society

"You wouldn't guess it from the title, but The Calculus of Friendship is a genuine tearjerker. I defy anyone to follow the correspondence between mathematician Steven Strogatz and his high school teacher Don Joffray (affectionately nicknamed 'Joff') without getting just a little lachrymose. If you don't, check to see if there is a heart in your chest. If there is, ensure that it's not just a cold slab of stone."--Bookslut

"The story of the correspondence between these two men is at once charming and subtly powerful. Strogatz writes directly and honestly, telling the story of a slow-growing friendship that was at once somewhat stilted and yet deep and sustaining. The immediacy and intimacy of Strogatz's writing transform the pleasures and tragedies of normal life into the elements of a compelling narrative, and because the book works so well on this human level, it also very effective in presenting some important lessons about education and about mathematics."--Mathrecreation blog


"As these two men find truer, deeper friendship through an exchange of letters on math, you may be surprised to find yourself, as I was, moved by powerful emotions. I never thought I'd get choked up by an equation--but these guys are plotting out the hardest kind of change to track: the movement from Me to Us."--Alan Alda

"The Calculus of Friendship is an intriguing journey that casts mathematics in a most unusual light. Through thirty years of correspondence between student and teacher, we enter a private world where the rigors of logic are the last defense against the vagaries of life."--Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe

"In this delightfully inspired account of a thirty-year correspondence, two mathematicians discover even deeper things than theorems that are fundamental. A math book for the mind and for the heart."--Larry Zimmerman, winner of the 1986 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching

"Steven Strogatz has written an unpretentious, charming, original, and inspiring book. In a disarmingly personal depiction, Strogatz leads us through a story of friendship between understated mentor and virtuosic student. The mathematical excursions are as much a pleasure to read as the moving narrative of the unusual friendship that the mathematics inspires."--Janna Levin, author of A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines

"It is unusual for mathematicians to write in such personal terms and with such candor. Readers with any mathematical background will find this book intriguing and fascinating."--John Adam, coauthor of Guesstimation

"The gentle but unremittingly honest account of this friendship utterly absorbed me. Also, some of the calculus is hilarious."--John Cleese

"Containing many mathematical morsels, this decades-long correspondence tells the story of a very special student-teacher relationship. These men have taught each other more than they could ever have envisioned."--Adrian Banner, author of The Calculus Lifesaver

"Mathematics speaks to the transcendental, as does this extraordinary friendship. A beautiful book!"--James Tanton, founding director of the St. Mark's Institute of Mathematics

"This is a lovely book. Strogatz succeeds in producing a sincere tribute to teachers, and he emphasizes in a direct way the human element of mathematics."--Barry Cipra, author of Misteaks...and How to Find Them before the Teacher Does: A Calculus Supplement

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File created: 4/21/2017

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