Euclid in the Rainforest
Discovering Universal Truth in Logic and MathBook - 2005
Like Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach, and David Berlinski’s A Tour of the Calculus, Euclid in the Rainforest combines the literary with the mathematical to explore
logic—the one indispensable tool in man’s quest to understand the world. Underpinning both math and science, it is the foundation of every major advancement in knowledge since the time of the ancient Greeks. Through adventure stories and historical narratives populated with a rich and quirky cast of characters, Mazur artfully reveals the less-than-airtight nature of logic and the muddled relationship between math and the real world. Ultimately, Mazur argues, logical reasoning is not purely robotic. At its most basic level, it is a creative process guided by our intuitions and beliefs about the world.
Mazur (mathematics, Marlboro College), like many a mathematician before him, seeks the truth. How he goes about it is to examine three kinds of logic, those from the ancient Greeks, the strange logic of infinity, and the everyday, practical, plausible logic that basically drives most scientific inquiry today. In a series of 16 zippy chapters, Mazur looks into what logic actually is and how and when it shows up, the various configurations of infinity as they strike such disparate surfaces as set theory and irrational numbers, and the ordinary, everyday logic that underlies the math that may or may not reflect the real world. Mazur's appendices double as very well-explained exercises. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)