What We Are Reading Today: 99 Variations on a Proof by Philip Ording

Updated 24 January 2019

What We Are Reading Today: 99 Variations on a Proof by Philip Ording

  • Book draws unexpected connections to everything from mysticism and technology to architecture and sign language.

 

This book offers a multifaceted perspective on mathematics by demonstrating 99 different proofs of the same theorem.

Each chapter solves an otherwise unremarkable equation in distinct historical, formal, and imaginative styles that range from medieval, topological, and doggerel to chromatic, electrostatic, and psychedelic.

With a rare blend of humor and scholarly aplomb, Philip Ording weaves these variations into an accessible and wide-ranging narrative on the nature and practice of mathematics, according to a review on the Princeton University Press website.

Inspired by the experiments of the Paris-based writing group known as the Oulipo — whose members included Raymond Queneau, Italo Calvino, and Marcel Duchamp — Ording explores new ways to examine the aesthetic possibilities of mathematical activity.

99 Variations on a Proof is a mathematical take on Queneau’s Exercises in Style, a collection of 99 retellings of the same story, and it draws unexpected connections to everything from mysticism and technology to architecture and sign language.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Democratic Equality by James Lindley Wilson

Updated 17 August 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Democratic Equality by James Lindley Wilson

  • It mounts a bold and persuasive defense of democracy as a way of making collective decisions

Democracy establishes relationships of political equality, ones in which citizens equally share authority over what they do together and respect one another as equals. 

But in today’s divided public square, democracy is challenged by political thinkers who disagree about how democratic institutions should be organized, and by antidemocratic politicians who exploit uncertainties about what democracy requires and why it matters. 

Democratic Equality mounts a bold and persuasive defense of democracy as a way of making collective decisions, showing how equality of authority is essential to relating equally as citizens, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

James Lindley Wilson explains why the US Senate and Electoral College are urgently in need of reform, why proportional representation is not a universal requirement of democracy, how to identify racial vote dilution and gerrymandering in electoral districting, how to respond to threats to democracy posed by wealth inequality, and how judicial review could be more compatible with the democratic ideal.