I read How to Bake Pi in hopes that ingredients, dessert recipes, and baking would help elucidate math for me, and this worked for the most part. Some of the food analogies are necessarily a bit forced, and I had trouble relating some of them to the math being discussed, but that was most likely a failing on my part.
One thing that stands out in Dr. Cheng's book is her ability to clearly define and talk about math terms that I've heard, been taught, used, but never completely understood (or perhaps I've forgotten.) She thoroughly discusses concepts like abstraction, generalization and axiomatization in ways that even I could understand, before writing about her own field of category theory in the second part of the book. Things got a bit murky there for me; I kept wondering, “What is category theory?” even while hearing that it is “the mathematics of mathematics.” This is probably because I'm a reader and student that needs concrete examples that I can ponder and examine, but I'm not sure category theory or Dr. Cheng can provide that.
What I liked best about How to Bake Pi is Dr. Cheng's enthusiasm for her subject matter, that she seems to really care about explaining mathematics to non-mathematicians, that she made me think and also raised many other questions, ideas, and areas of interest for me. Even if you may not care about math or think math is difficult, listening to How to Bake Pi may change your mind in an interesting and enjoyable way. Like the author says, “Mathematics is easy, life is hard.”
21 of 24 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
This is an intriguing concept, an approachable introduction to the fundamentals of mathematics. However, it translates poorly to the audiobook format with the repetitions of formulas.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful