The Mathematical Radio: Inside the Magic of AM, FM, and Single-Sideband

    Foreword by
  • Andrew Simoson

How a modern radio works, told through mathematics, history, and selected puzzles


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Jan 16, 2024
119 b/w illus.
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The modern radio is a wonder, and behind that magic is mathematics. In The Mathematical Radio, Paul Nahin explains how radios work, deploying mathematics and historical discussion, accompanied by a steady stream of intriguing puzzles for math buffs to ponder. Beginning with oscillators and circuits, then moving on to AM, FM, and single-sideband radio, Nahin focuses on the elegant mathematics underlying radio technology rather than the engineering. He explores and explains more than a century of key developments, placing them in historical and technological context.

Nahin, a prolific author of books on math for the general reader, describes in fascinating detail the mathematical underpinnings of a technology we use daily. He explains and solves, for example, Maxwell’s equations for the electromagnetic field. Readers need only a familarity with advanced high school–level math to follow Nahin’s mathematical discussions. Writing with the nonengineer in mind, Nahin examines topics including impulses in time and frequency, spectrum shifting at the transmitter, the superheterodyne, the physics of single-sideband radio, and FM sidebands. Chapters end with “challenge problems” and an appendix offers solutions, partial answers, and hints. Readers will come away with a new appreciation for the beauty of even the most useful mathematics.