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Jonathan Andrew Wolter

Archive for the ‘maths’ Category

Book Review: The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges’ Library of Babel

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Reading time: 1 – 2 minutes

This book is *awesome*! Why? The author takes a short story, “The Library of Babel,” by Jorge Luis Borges and analyzes it along many different mathematical dimensions. The results are stimulating and accessible to non-mathematicians. The story is about a library, which is composed of:

An indefinite number of … hexagonal galleries. In the center of each gallery is a ventilation shaft, bounded by a low railing. … Twenty bookshelves … line four of the hexagon’s six sides… One of the hexagon’s free sides opens onto a narrow sort of vestibule, which in turn opens to another gallery, identical to the first — identical in fact to all.

What’s the implication of this? The author, William Goldbloom Bloch, takes us through combinatorics, information theory, real analysis, topology and cosmology (a tough chapter), geometry and graph theory, and more combinatorics. He explains things in an easy to understand way, and then if you want more, has “Math Aftermath” sections that get more in depth.

In the end, he gives a long list of suggested readings. I have started a list here http://amzn.com/w/236UZ2PNNR3W2. What math books do you all suggest?

Written by Jonathan

April 30th, 2011 at 12:38 pm