Solving the Twelve Labors of Hercules
How might Hercules, the most famous of the Greek heroes, have used mathematics to complete his astonishing Twelve Labors? From conquering the Nemean Lion and cleaning out the Augean Stables, to capturing the Erymanthean Boar and entering the Underworld to defeat the three-headed dog Cerberus, Hercules and his legend are the inspiration for this book of fun and original math puzzles.
While Hercules relied on superhuman strength to accomplish the Twelve Labors, Mythematics shows how math could have helped during his quest. How does Hercules defeat the Lernean Hydra and stop its heads from multiplying? Can Hercules clean the Augean Stables in a day? What is the probability that the Cretan Bull will attack the citizens of Marathon? How does Hercules deal with the terrifying Kraken? Michael Huber's inventive math problems are accompanied by short descriptions of the Twelve Labors, taken from the writings of Apollodorus, who chronicled the life of Hercules two thousand years ago. Tasks are approached from a mathematical modeling viewpoint, requiring varying levels of knowledge, from basic logic and geometry to differential and integral calculus. Mythematics provides helpful hints and complete solutions, and the appendixes include a brief history of the Hercules tale, a review of mathematics and equations, and a guide to the various disciplines of math used throughout the book.
An engaging combination of ancient mythology and modern mathematics, Mythematics will enlighten and delight mathematics and classics enthusiasts alike.
Michael Huber is associate professor of mathematics at Muhlenberg College.