Magical Mathematics reveals the secrets of amazing, fun-to-perform card tricks--and the profound mathematical ideas behind them--that will astound even the most accomplished magician. Persi Diaconis and Ron Graham provide easy, step-by-step instructions for each trick, explaining how to set up the effect and offering tips on what to say and do while performing it. Each card trick introduces a new mathematical idea, and varying the tricks in turn takes readers to the very threshold of today's mathematical knowledge. For example, the Gilbreath Principle--a fantastic effect where the cards remain in control despite being shuffled--is found to share an intimate connection with the Mandelbrot set. Other card tricks link to the mathematical secrets of combinatorics, graph theory, number theory, topology, the Riemann hypothesis, and even Fermat's last theorem.
Diaconis and Graham are mathematicians as well as skilled performers with decades of professional experience between them. In this book they share a wealth of conjuring lore, including some closely guarded secrets of legendary magicians. Magical Mathematics covers the mathematics of juggling and shows how the I Ching connects to the history of probability and magic tricks both old and new. It tells the stories--and reveals the best tricks--of the eccentric and brilliant inventors of mathematical magic. Magical Mathematics exposes old gambling secrets through the mathematics of shuffling cards, explains the classic street-gambling scam of three-card monte, traces the history of mathematical magic back to the thirteenth century and the oldest mathematical trick--and much more.
Persi Diaconis is professor of mathematics and statistics at Stanford University and a professional magician. Ron Graham is professor of mathematics and computer science at the University of California, San Diego, and a professional juggler.
"[F]ascinating. . . . Magical Mathematics [is] a dazzling tour of math-based magic tricks. . . . Lovers of recreational mathematics, and especially fans of the late Martin Gardner, who contributed the foreword, will find many pleasures in Magical Mathematics. And while exposing magic secrets in a book intended for the general public may raise hackles among some old-guard magicians, exploring the math behind these tricks will, in truth, only deepen the mystery. For, as the authors remind us, sometimes the methods are as magical as the tricks themselves."--Alex Stone, Wall Street Journal
"The Riemann hypothesis, the Mandelbrot set, Fermat's last theorem--these mathematical notions and others underlie all manner of magic tricks. Mathematicians Persi Diaconis--also a card magician--and Ron Graham--also a juggler--unveil the connections between magic and math in this well-illustrated volume."--Scientific American
"Writing for the public, the two authors share their passions, teaching sophisticated mathematical concepts along with interesting card tricks, which rely upon those principles for their workings."--GENII: The Conjurors' Magazine
"[I]t is simply a beautiful book. The design, layout, typography, even the paper is beautiful. . . . [T]his is one of the most fun, engaging new popular mathematics books I've seen in a long time."--The Math Less Traveled Blog
"The authors are master storytellers. . . . [T]he authors offer advice and recommendations for further pursuits in mathematics, magic and juggling."--Cut-the-Knot blog
"Well known and highly respected in the mathematical community, Diaconis and Graham have produced a work that completely lives up to expectations. It contains descriptions of magic tricks as viewed by an audience, the mathematics that make them possible, and clear explanations to help you--with a little practice--amaze your friends."--Library Journal
Table of Contents
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Persi Diaconis: