## Calculus for the ambitious, by Tom Korner, a review, by Henri Laurie

This is a lovely book: strong emphasis on ideas; a lively sense of humour; a sure logical touch; historical detail that is accurate, relevant, yet quirky (takes some doing!). What’s not to like?

Well, there’s this: it is not easy to decide whether to recommend the book to anybody who doesn’t already know calculus. I’ll return to that. Let me start by describing why this is such a good book.

Firstly, the light touch and the clarity, which together make it wonderfully accessible. Fans of Tom Korner, including yours truly, will be happy to hear that it it as good as his “The Pleasures of Counting” and “Fourier Analysis”, two of the best books on maths ever. Like them, it discusses applications, social context and history but always in a way that supports the maths, which remains the main focus.

Secondly, the balance between rigour and intuition is superbly judged and maintained.…

## The Recamán sequence

In case you have watched the following video about the Recamán sequence.

and want to play around with it in Mathematica. Here is my code for doing so:

nums = {0};

For[i = 1, i < 66, i++,
If[nums[[-1]] – i > 0 && Position[nums, nums[[-1]] – i] === {}, nums = Append[nums, nums[[-1]] – i],
nums = Append[nums, nums[[-1]] + i]]
]

{{#[[1]], 0}, #[[2]]} & /@ Partition[Riffle[Mean[#] & /@ Partition[Riffle[nums, nums[[2 ;;]]], 2],
Abs[Differences[nums]]/2], 2];

Show[Show[
Table[Graphics[Circle[%[[i, 1]], %[[i, 2]], {(i) \[Pi], (i + 1) \[Pi]}]], {i, Length[%]}], ImageSize -> 1000], Plot[0, {x, 0, 91}],
Axes -> True]

(You may have to copy this by hand rather than copy/paste.)

This produces the following rather beautiful graphic (and answers the question posed in the video):

Evidence away my dear Watson…evidence away.

 How clear is this post?

## Music by the Numbers, From Pythagoras to Schoenberg – By Eli Maor, a review

NB. I was sent this book as a review copy.

Music by the numbers leads us on a journey, as stated in the title, from Pythagoras to Schoenberg. In many ways the endpoint is stated early on, giving us clues that a revolution in mathematical thinking about musical scales will be encountered in the early twentieth century. Indeed the journey through musical practice, mathematics, physics and the biology of hearing is woven rather beautifully together, giving the account of our step by step explorations of tonal systems and their links to the physics of vibration. The development of calculus and the triumph of Fourier take as from the somewhat numerological and empiric realms of musical experimentation to the age of a true understanding of timbre – the way different instruments express harmonics and their overtones in different admixtures. A lot of emphasis is placed on the development of scales based on subtly different frequency ratios, which were developed over the years (particularly within European music, non-European music being given only very brief comment) to balance the physical, mathematical and aesthetic qualities of the various possible tunings of instruments.…