In Praise of Small Numbers
In Single Digits, Marc Chamberland takes readers on a fascinating exploration of small numbers, from one to nine, looking at their history, applications, and connections to various areas of mathematics, including number theory, geometry, chaos theory, numerical analysis, and mathematical physics. For instance, why do eight perfect card shuffles leave a standard deck of cards unchanged? And, are there really "six degrees of separation" between all pairs of people? Chamberland explores these questions and covers vast numerical territory, such as illustrating the ways that the number three connects to chaos theory, the number of guards needed to protect an art gallery, problematic election results and so much more. The book's short sections can be read independently and digested in bite-sized chunks—especially good for learning about the Ham Sandwich Theorem and the Pizza Theorem. Appealing to high school and college students, professional mathematicians, and those mesmerized by patterns, this book shows that single digits offer a plethora of possibilities that readers can count on.
Marc Chamberland is professor of mathematics and natural sciences at Grinnell College. He is the creator of the YouTube channel Tipping Point Math, which strives to make mathematics accessible to everyone.