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The joy of [pi]
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  Publishers Weekly Review

It is hardly an overstatement to call pi the most important number in the history of civilization. For thousands of years, pi‘the ratio of the circumference of any circle to its diameter, or 3.14159265...‘has been a source of fascination, because the digits after the decimal point never fall into a recognizable or repeating pattern. Famously inquiring minds, like Leonardo da Vinci and the great Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, have been driven to discover the next, unknown digit. In this slim, elegantly designed book, Blatner, an expert in computer publishing who has authored books on digital imaging and virtual reality, takes the reader on a colorful, visually rich tour through this still incompletely known number's rich history as a mathematical holy grail. As mathematicians continue to determine pi's value to more and more digits, now up to at least 8 billion, sidebars, quotations, cartoons and numerous images provide clever or informative asides and bits of trivia. (Want to know the 71,297th digit of pi? You'll find it here.) Such digit-chasing at times threatens to overwhelm the myriad roles the ratio has played in everything from the construction of the Egyptian pyramids to the oscillation of mechanical systems and electrical current. Quibbles aside, however, this is a book ideally suited to being left lying about, so that science buffs and aficionados of fine typography can peruse it at leisure. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

  Booklist Review

Why does an irrational number impel rational people to do irrational things--like calculating pi to several billion digits? That's what's happening with a pair of characters in Blatner's delightful excursion through the history of pi; his publisher is satisfied to print just the first million digits, while the rest of us, trying to pass algebra or put up a building, can live with 3.14159. Even numerically challenged readers will find Blatner's tale immensely appealing, both for the creative graphic layout, in day-glo colors, no less, and for the amusing and informative anecdotes Blatner relates. He plays up the successes and errors along the way of calculating the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, which has advanced from measuring lengths of string and the "brute force" of measuring polygons to feeding supercomputers sophisticated algorithms. Sidebars (and sidecircles, naturally) abound, containing a factoid, joke, or doggerel inspired by pi which even had a minor role in the O. J. trial. A well-conceived tribute to math's most famous number. --Gilbert Taylor
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