We all played tag when we were kids. The rules couldn't be easier--one player is designated "it" and must try to tag out one of the others. What most of us don't realize is that this simple chase game is in fact an application of pursuit theory, and that the same principles of games like tag, dodgeball, and hide-and-seek are at play in military strategy, high-seas chases by the Coast Guard, even romantic pursuits. In Chases and Escapes, Paul Nahin gives us the first complete history of this fascinating area of mathematics.
Writing in an accessible style that has been enjoyed by popular-math enthusiasts everywhere, Nahin traces the development of modern pursuit theory from its classical analytical beginnings to the present day. Along the way, he informs his mathematical discussions with fun facts and captivating stories. Nahin invites readers to explore the different approaches to solving various chase-and-escape problems. He draws upon game theory, geometry, linear algebra, target-tracking algorithms--and much more. Nahin offers an array of challenging puzzles for beginners on up, providing historical background for each problem and explaining how each one can be applied more broadly. Chases and Escapes includes solutions to all problems and provides computer programs that readers can use for their own cutting-edge analysis.
This informative and entertaining book is the first comprehensive treatment of the subject, one that is sure to appeal to anyone interested in the mathematics that underlie the all-too-human endeavor of pursuit and evasion.
"In the 18th century, mathematicians began to tease apart how best to track down and intercept prey, inspired by pirate ships bearing down on merchant vessels. The mathematics is by no means trivial, and quickly becomes fiendish if the merchant ship takes evasive action. This is just one of the colorful problems in Paul Nahin's fascinating history of the mathematics of pursuit, in which he guides us masterfully through the maths itself--think lions and Christians, submarines and torpedoes, and the curvaceous flight of fighter aircraft."--New Scientist
"This book contains a well-written, well-organized collection of solutions to twenty-one challenging calculus and differential equation problems that concern pursuit and evasion as well as the historical background of each problem type."--Mathematics Teacher
"I am sure that this book will appeal to everyone who is interested in mathematics and game theory. Excellent work. Cheers."--Prabhat Kumar Mahanti, Zentralblatt Math
"This is a highly readable book that offers several colorful applications of differential equations and good examples of non-trivial integrals for calculus students. It would be a good source of examples for the classroom and or a starting point for an independent project."--Bill Satzer, MAA Review
"Nahin provides beautiful applications of calculus, differential equations, and game theory. If you are pursuing an enjoyable collection of mathematical problems and the stories behind them, then your search ends here."--Arthur Benjamin, Harvey Mudd College
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Paul J. Nahin: