Curves for the Mathematically Curious is a thoughtfully curated collection of ten mathematical curves, selected by Julian Havil for their significance, mathematical interest, and beauty. Each chapter gives an account of the history and definition of one curve, providing a glimpse into the elegant and often surprising mathematics involved in its creation and evolution. In telling the ten stories, Havil introduces many mathematicians and other innovators, some whose fame has withstood the passing of years and others who have slipped into comparative obscurity. You will meet Pierre Bézier, who is known for his ubiquitous and eponymous curves, and Adolphe Quetelet, who trumpeted the ubiquity of the normal curve but whose name now hides behind the modern body mass index. These and other ingenious thinkers engaged with the challenges, incongruities, and insights to be found in these remarkable curves—and now you can share in this adventure.
Curves for the Mathematically Curious is a rigorous and enriching mathematical experience for anyone interested in curves, and the book is designed so that readers who choose can follow the details with pencil and paper. Every curve has a story worth telling.
"This is not your father’s – or grandfather’s – standard collection of conic sections."—Jim Stein, New Books Network
"Undoubtedly [this book], written in the same entertaining unmistakable style of the author and containing a lot of information - mathematical, historical and general - will attract, as the previous ones, a large audience."—S. Cobzas, Studia Mathematica
"What a beautiful book!"—Jonathan Shock, Mathemafrica.org
"A wonderful addition to libraries where the mathematically curious find their reading."—Choice
"Havil’s narrative for each curve is a cornucopia of fun facts and rigorous explanation."—Andrew J. Simoson, Mathematical Intelligencer
"Overall, the book was a delight to read. The writing is witty and entertaining, the history is at times peculiar and surprising, and the mathematics is rich and engaging. It would make a fine addition to a classroom bookcase or home coffee table, but while there are plenty of elegant diagrams and intriguing stories to give every curious reader the chance to glimpse mathematical beauty, only those with the ability to dig beneath the surface will understand just how much beauty this book has to offer."—Samuel Hewitt, Mathematical Gazette
"Havil has done a wonderful job of choosing ten of the most intriguing curves in mathematics—some are famous, some are infamous, and some will likely be new to many readers. I enjoyed this book very much."—David S. Richeson, author of Euler's Gem: The Polyhedron Formula and the Birth of Topology
"Julian Havil enlivens the mathematics of curves with historical context and charming anecdotes, from Galileo's quest for the engineering principle of the arch to Picasso's curvaceous drawing of a dog."—Lynn Gamwell, author of Mathematics and Art: A Cultural History
"A delightful collection of plane curves with engaging historical commentary. The curves range from classical to neoclassical to modern. Some are mainly of theoretical interest, but many have practical applications. All are fascinating."—Avner Ash, coauthor of Elliptic Tales: Curves, Counting, and Number Theory
"With his engaging style of writing, Havil takes ten mathematical curves and describes their properties and the interesting histories behind them. Curves for the Mathematically Curious is an important book."—Allan McRobie, author of The Seduction of Curves: The Lines of Beauty That Connect Mathematics, Art, and the Nude
"With this charming collection of episodes, Havil shows that the study of curves is far from one-dimensional. Ten carefully selected curves provide focus for chapters that abound with mathematical and historical substance as well as practical application. The featured curves serve as a cabinet of wonders for reading straight through or dipping into for a rich treat."—Frank A. Farris, author of Creating Symmetry: The Artful Mathematics of Wallpaper Patterns