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Publisher's Summary

No number has captured the attention and imagination of people throughout the ages as much as the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. Pi is infinite and, in The Joy of Pi it proves to be infinitely intriguing. With incisive historical insight and a refreshing sense of humor, David Blatner explores the many facets of pi and humankind's fascination with it - from the ancient Egyptians and Archimedes to Leonardo da Vinci and the modern-day Chudnovsky brothers, who have calculated pi to eight billion digits with a homemade supercomputer.

The Joy of Pi is a book of many parts. Breezy narratives recount the history of pi and the quirky stories of those obsessed with it. Sidebars document fascinating pi trivia. Dozens of snippets and factoids reveal pi's remarkable impact over the centuries. Mnemonic devices teach how to memorize pi to many hundreds of digits (or more, if you're so inclined). Pi-inspired poems, limericks, and jokes offer delightfully "square" pi humor.

A tribute to all things pi, The Joy of Pi is sure to foster a newfound affection and respect for the big number with the funny little symbol.

©1990 by Lars Erickson
Altered Inventions, 2002 by Lars Erickson
Published by arrangement with Walker & Co.
1997 David Blatner
(P)2002 Random House, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A great start for those who love math.

I think that the book "A beautiful mind" did a great deal to rekindle the love for mathematics in many of us. In school I certainly remember the drudgery of mathematics, and with the exception of my 10th grade math teacher most instructors were simply un-inspiring.

I have recently started to read about the history and the theory of mathematics in my leisure and have found that it is a relaxing, albeit unorthodox diversion.

This book is excellent in terms of giving the history and providing interesting pieces of the fascinating people who have worked with this number. Unlike other reviewers, I found it captivating. As with many audio books, I would recommend obtaining a copy of the print version also, because some of the equations need to be "seen" rather than just heard to truly appreciate them.

This book is clearly too basic for people who are acquainted with mathematical history or theoretical aspects of recent math theory, but for someone like myself, who finds this kind of information interesting and challenging I give it my highest recommendation.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Sean
  • Columbus, OH, USA
  • 05-06-03

Interesting, if superficial and myopic

An enjoyable enough romp through the mystery, history, and personalities surrounding the elusive ratio, but after illustrating and celebrating the many paradigm-shifts involving the search for and understanding of pi, e.g., Archimedean or electronic, the author spends an entire chapter making fun of cyclometricians (circle-squarers), never entertaining (or admitting) that the next leap in pi studies (if there is such a thing) MIGHT be among them, and that those who in retrospect are now called visionaries in mathematics, were at one time considered cranks by the establishmentarians they displaced. Also, it could be difficult for someone not well versed in mathematics to follow the formulas recited in the audio format, but this is kept to a minimum, and you can always "rewind."

22 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Eric
  • South Pasadena, CA, United States
  • 02-27-10

Did Not Reach Its Promise

Got off to a good start, but then sputtered. Not enough explanation on how the number is actually calculated or how it's used in the real world. Too much discussion on trivial things, not enough on how this concept came about and how it helps us.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Lost interest halfway through the book

Interesting concept of a book but sort of redundant. Even for a math major, this book is somewhat dry. There is only so many ways you can try to describe a number or theory without repeating yourself. I quit listnening halfway through the book.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Not what I expected

I had hoped for a thorough review of the place of pi in our understanding of the world, it's use throughout mathematics and science. But, alas, all I got was a basic human history of pi, evidently gleaned from a few other histories. the "pi on the side" asides became annoying, repetitive, and difficult to link to the main text. For audio "readers" the recitation of numbers and formulas may be too diffficult to hold in your head to follow the point being made. This book belongs in the history section so if you are reading it for the math or science, skip it.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Get A Life, People!

Wasting time listening to this audiobook is as non-productive as the people who spend time calculating Pi, squaring the circle or memorizing the digits of Pi. This book is absurd. The first third is an endless repetition of all the people who have calculated Pi all the way back to Genesis. The next third is about two Russian brothers that have wasted their lives calculating Pi to 8 bazillion digits. The last third is about people who waste their time memorizing the digits of Pi and the circle squarers who figure they have an answer for Pi. The mindless recitation of useless facts about Pi is made even more unbearable by the fact that the narrators feel compelled to imitate the accent of the characters they quote such as the Russian brothers, Norwegians, Indians, etc.

The only worthwhile thing about the book is the good 3 1/2 hours of walking I got in while enduring this agony. If you enjoy watching paint dry, give this one a try.

18 of 44 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Tamuning, N/A, Guam
  • 05-16-03

The Joy of Pi

I loved this book and highly recommend it to everyone, even those who are 'not good in math'.

5 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Needless arrogance

Although the historicity of PI is fascinating and well represented by this book, the occasional slams against religion (the Bible mainly) were totally out of line and uncalled for. Just write books people and keep your agenda to yourselves.

3 of 31 people found this review helpful