EUNICE MORAL is a bookstagrammer and a blogger with a soul of a poet. Most days you can find her hunkered down in a corner reading the day away, and some days you can find her writing poems on the back of an old receipt. She lives for English Breakfast tea lattes and secondhand bookshops. Over the years she had developed a penchant for weird stories and troubled souls.
My books include FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA (a New England Book Award Winner) and NO FILTER AND OTHER LIES (a Seventeen Best Young Adult Book) by Crystal Maldonado; BROTHER'S KEEPER by Julie Lee (a Freeman Book Award Winner); THE STAR THAT ALWAYS STAYS by Anna Rose Johnson (an NPR Best Book of the Year); and THE LIAR'S DAUGHTER by Megan Cooley Peterson (a YALSA Quick Pick), among others. I graduated from the Columbia Publishing Course.
This book introduces, with some variations,eight mathematically flavoured games orpuzzles. As the authors accurately explainin their preface, the type of problems theypresent look at first sight almost impossibleto solve. It is only after a careful analysis,reducing it to a formal (say mathematical)reformulation, that it becomes clear thata solution strategy can be designed thatis in some sense even optimal. Each time,the discussion of the solution to a problem is taken as an excellentpretext to explain some piece of mathematics. A reader witha minimal mathematical background will learn what a Hammingcode is, what a cyclic group is, and even some elements of linearalgebra, probability, and even broader topics such as informationtheory, projective geometry, and algebraic topology. What starts asa playful game with a seemingly impossible solution becomes, afterplacing it in an appropriate mathematical context, relatively easyto solve. Moreover, by isolation and abstraction of the essentials,it becomes simple to consider more general situations. A betteradvertisement for the power of mathematics and a stronger motivationto study mathematical formalism and mathematical structurescan hardly be found.
For an inexperienced puzzler, the problems look challengingat first sight, so she is gradually guided by the authors towardsa solution with several variants of naive trials, pointing at the shortcomings,and just enough mathematics is used to deal with theproblem at hand. If, in a top-down approach, the mathematics wereto be introduced first with the problem solution as an a posterioriapplication, this approach would not have the same motivatingeffect. A simple problem that has a hard solution leads to mathematicsthat not only solves the original problem, but that canimmediately be applied to generalizations and other variants ofthe problem. For readers who are attracted to solving puzzles andgames, but who have a weak (or no) mathematical background,the authors provide several appendices with additional explanationof notation, binary and complex numbers, converging sequences,probability, etc. as well as some extra details on specific problemsdiscussed in the chapters. This is an engaging book that all puzzlers,and certainly novices to the field, will love. 2b1af7f3a8