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Posted on by Anuj Varma
Mathematics as a hobby (math as a hobby) ? Yes – Really!

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Specializing in high volume web applications, Anuj Varma has helped architect, re-architect and troubleshoot some of the largest web applications out there.
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Anuj Varma – who has written posts on Anuj Varma, Technical Architect.


Even if you do not consider math to be a hobby, this article may provide an understanding of why a lot of people do. Not being a math-aficionado, my wife thought it a bit strange that I enjoyed solving math problems for fun (I pointed her to the ‘uber’ in the ‘uber-geek’ on my blog tagline – I rest my case!). This article shows that I am not alone (lots of people enjoy math as a hobby) and gave me some ammunition to defend myself.

For those of you who would like to adopt the exciting world of mathematics as a hobby and were wondering where to start, here is a list of highly recommended books (don’t just take my word for it, check the reviews out on amazon.com). These books happen to be some of my favorites.

Problem Sets

    The Green Book of Mathematical Problems
  • Broken up into 3 sections – the Problems, Hints and finally, the Full Solution. This collection contains 100 problems selected from various sources including The Mathematics Magazine and The American Mathematical Monthly. Topics range from number theory, complex analysis, differential equations, integrals, polynomials, set theory and more.

The Red Book of Mathematical Problems
  • Same description as for the Green Book – just another collection of 100 problems.


 
 

Proofs from THE BOOK

  • Paul Erdos, a famous mathematician wanted to compile a book containing the most beautiful mathematical proofs out there. He passed away before completing his wish. The authors of this book have tried to pay homage to Erdos by compiling some of the most important and beautiful mathematical proofs. Each proof can be read as a chapter in itself. One editorial review states – Inside this book is a glimpse of mathematical heaven…

BERKELEY PROBLEMS IN MATHEMATICS(THIRD EDITION) B01_0612
  • A collection of problems (and solutions) from Ph.D. qualifiers from the Math program at U.C. Berkeley. Contains problems on real and complex analysis, Modern Algebra, Calculus and Differential Equations.

 
Fifty Challenging Problems in Probability with Solutions
  • Have you ever wondered what the probability is for a coin to fall on its edge (or how thick a coin has to be in order for this to be a real possibility) ? The problems range from innocent looking statements that appear simple at first glance. However, there is a reason that the book’s title contains the word ‘challenging’. These problems will keep you up – and you may need to peek at the solutions to make some headway. A true gem for folks who want to start out simple in their attempt to pursue math as a hobby.
Counterexamples in Analysis (Dover Books on Mathematics)
  • Have you ever wondered what the probability is for a coin to fall on its edge (or how thick a coin has to be in order for this to be a real possibility) ? The problems range from innocent looking statements that appear simple at first glance. However, there is a reason that the book’s title contains the word ‘challenging’. These problems will keep you up – and you may need to peek at the solutions to make some headway. A true gem for folks who want to start out simple in their attempt to pursue math as a hobby.

Exciting Mathematical Reads

The World of Mathematics: A Four-Volume Set

This is a compilation of original articles on all things math. The articles are wide ranging and contain topics such as How to Hunt a SubmarineA Mathematical Approach to Ethics and The Vice of Gambling. A very accessible and entertaining read for any background level.

The Mathematical Experience

This book will truly get you excited about math. It tries to present the struggles that a modern day mathematician encounters on a daily basis – What constitutes a proof? Do mathematical objects really exist ? etc. In addition, it introduces mathematical concepts such as the Frechet ultrafilter, an integer known as a moser (huge integer) and other exciting mathematical constructs that make this a truly exciting read.


Road To Reality

While meant to be a popular physics book, this is unlike other books on the subject. One has to work through this book to really get the most out of it. There are problems at the end of each section – and there is a website that maintains solutions to the problems. The Editorial Review states – If Albert Einstein were alive, he would have a copy of The Road to Reality on his bookshelf. So would Isaac Newton.

Summary

It goes without saying that I have missed several great books in the lists above. However, my intention was to provide a starting point for people interested in pursuing math as a hobby.   If you have any recommendations or suggestions for books to include, please send them my way.

January 17, 2014 at 8:08 am
Mauro says:

Don’t forget Project Euler! (http://projecteuler.net) It has a CS focus, true, but they’re generally very challenging math problems before you can even get to the coding part.


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