What We Are Reading Today: Millions, Billions, Zillions by Brian W. Kernighan

Updated 19 October 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Millions, Billions, Zillions by Brian W. Kernighan

  • Numbers are often intimidating, confusing, and even deliberately deceptive
  • Misunderstanding numbers can have serious consequences

Numbers are often intimidating, confusing, and even deliberately deceptive— especially when they are really big. The media loves to report on millions, billions, and trillions, but frequently makes basic mistakes or presents such numbers in misleading ways. 

And misunderstanding numbers can have serious consequences, since they can deceive us in many of our most important decisions, including how to vote, what to buy, and whether to make a financial investment. In this short, accessible, enlightening, and entertaining book, leading computer scientist Brian Kernighan teaches anyone — even diehard math-phobes — how to demystify the numbers that assault us every day.

With examples drawn from a rich variety of sources, including journalism, advertising, and politics, Kernighan demonstrates how numbers can mislead and misrepresent. In chapters covering big numbers, units, dimensions, and more, he lays bare everything from deceptive graphs to speciously precise numbers. And he shows how anyone — using a few basic ideas and lots of shortcuts — can easily learn to recognize common mistakes, determine whether numbers are credible, and make their own sensible estimates when needed.

Giving you the simple tools you need to avoid being fooled by dubious numbers, Millions, Billions, Zillions is an essential survival guide for a world drowning in big — and often bad — data.

Brian W. Kernighan is professor of computer science at Princeton University. His many books include Understanding the Digital World: What You Need to Know about Computers, the Internet, Privacy, and Security (Princeton). He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.


Where We Are Going Today: Stationery Fantasies

Updated 15 November 2018
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Where We Are Going Today: Stationery Fantasies

Rawae’e Al-Maktabaat (Stationery Fantasies) in Jeddah aims to awaken children’s creativity.
Located on Prince Sultan Road in Al-Zahra’a district, the facility is divided into six parts: The water park, indoor activity area, children’s costume shop, toy store, stationery shop and housewares stores.
There are four floors of indoor activity options for kids to choose from. The floors are divided into rooms filled with different activities such as cookery, carpentry, art and soap making. The toddler room has a ball pit and a sand pit.
The water park has a variety of slides and a wave pool. There are cafes and seats for adults to relax.
Rawae’e Al-Maktabaat is the perfect place for kids and their parents to relax and enjoy a creative time.