Dude, Can You Count? Stories, Challenges and Adventures in Mathematics
Imagine algebra class meets The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…
Meet JJ, an unusual character with a unique vantage position from which he can measure and monitor humanity’s progress. Armed with a device that compels all around it to tell the truth, JJ offers a satirical evaluation of our attitudes to numeracy and logic, touching upon several aspects of life on Earth along the way, from the criminal justice system and people’s use of language to highway driving and modern art.
A collection of mathematically-flavored stories and jokes, interlaced with puzzles, paradoxes and problems, fuse together in an entertaining, free-flowing narrative that will engage and amuse anyone with an interest in the issues confronting society today. JJ demonstrates how a lack of elementary mathematical knowledge can taint our work and general thinking and reflects upon the importance of what is arguably our most valuable weapon against ignorance: a sound mathematical education.
Christian Constanda, MS, PhD, DSc, is the holder of The Charles W. Oliphant Endowed Chair in Mathematical Sciences at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, USA, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK, and the chairman of the International Consortium for Integral Methods in Science and Engineering. An accomplished classroom performer on three continents, he has also served as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation in the areas of mathematical sciences and mathematics education. Constanda is the author, editor, or translator of 14 research books, and the author of over 120 peer-reviewed articles. In 2002, his textbook on partial differential equations was selected as an Outstanding Academic Title by the Choice magazine of the American Library Association.
From the reviews:
'This one-of-a-kind book by Christian Constanda skillfully blends humor, satire, basic mathematics, pedagogy, and social commentary in an intellectual, dialogic narrative that is fun, fascinating, and easy to read…The book’s instructional quality is further enhanced by a wealth educational puzzles that illustrate the power of imagination and lateral thinking as solution tools, and by the ‘word to the wise’ section at the end of each chapter, which succinctly lists do’s and don’ts in the handling of the most fundamental concepts of mathematics…The book makes a strong case for the ‘queen of sciences’, it’s importance to our world and everyday life, and the need to learn how to manipulate it rigourously. If you have still not been persuaded to read the book for those reasons, then at least read it for the well-selected 100 or so jokes and anecdotes sprinkled throughout it’s pages…' (Chris Banaerjee, Math Horizons, April 2011)
'there is a definite and valid point to this book, underpinned by a solid mathematical base containing plenty of entertaining examples of interest' (Chris Howls, Times Higher Education, 15 July 2010)
“The author claims that current trends in mathematics education are a major cause of this "general malaise of the human species"… Students will enjoy these puzzles and they provide a good source of interesting examples for teachers at the pre university level. … This rather unique imaginative and personal book raises some important points which merit further discussion and serious debate. The mathematical sections are well written and will appeal to both students and teachers while the anecdotes are a welcome addition.” (Tim Burness, The London Mathematical Society, Issue 393, June, 2010)
"The narrator exchanges mathematical jokes and puzzles with an extraterrestrial visitor while they both rant outrageously about the perceived wrongs of the modern world. This is the most extraordinary maths book i have ever read!" (Tony Mann, Times Higher Education,10 June 2010)
'a nice collection of problems and jokes...it turns out to be a fun read, and rather addictive. And very accessible: the math involved here isn’t particularly difficult, so anyone with a modest understanding of algebra can enjoy most of this book...Donald L. Vestal, MAA, June 2010
"An entertaining book that examines key issues in education and other concerns of society through the eyes of an experienced mathematician and educator. Using his keen sense of humor, vivid imagination and strong personal style, the authors presents a very readable yet serious discussion which should be of interest to us all."
Professor Peter Schiavone, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta, Canada.
"…a highly readable, unique and fascinating combination of humor, mathematics and social commentary that is factual, educational and, more importantly, understandable. Given what is taking place in today’s society, J.J. Moon brings mathematics back to earth! I’ll never go through the car buying process again without thinking about SCAM 16!"
Jerry Hoopert, VP / Chief Administrative Officer, TTCU, US
"Constanda opens his preface with: "The world is going to the dogs". Well, Cicero wrote: "Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book". These two illustrious authors agree with each other, while the latter fulfils the prophecy of the earlier. They’re both right, and we should applaud Constanda’s efforts to put his mathematical corner of the world right, entertaining as he instructs. A long overdue and readable contribution in a refreshing style – but it may not make children behave."
Professor Roger Boyle, School of Computing, University of Leeds, UK
"Numbers, logic, human behavior and aliens: this unique book blends them all into a captivating narrative of serious talk and satire, where wit and scholarly details are counterpointed by instructive puzzles and mathematical fun. A ‘must read’ for anybody who appreciates humor and culture."
Stanislav Potapenko, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Waterloo, Canada
"This is a book that definitely engages the reader. Logical reasoning and basic arithmetic facts are introduced through a sequence of lively discussions with the fictional character J.J. Moon. In the process, the reader journeys through a wealth of problems, often disguised as intriguing puzzles on mundane topics such as language, grammar, and punctuation, political correctness, TV advertising, modern art, buying cars, etc. The book will prove to be a great source of enjoyment to any reader interested in logical reasoning and in seeing how mathematics is part of our daily life. At the same time, those teaching mathematics will find the book to be a wonderful resource of examples to be used to break the monotony of the daily classroom routine."
Dorina Mitrea, Department of Mathematics, University of Missouri-Columbia, US
As a high school math teacher and administrator, I found Christian’s book to be a real delight. He has managed to intertwine stories, puzzles, logic and some very rich mathematics concepts into a very readable, enjoyable novel. Although not preaching, he also gives his views as to what is wrong with the educational, legal, judicial and journalistic systems in America. As I finished a chapter, I was always anxious to begin the next to see what problems, puzzles and stories lay ahead. He has included many classic logic puzzles and some interesting ones I had not seen before. He also makes it very clear to the reader at the end of the chapter what common errors students should avoid when studying their elementary math courses in high school. I believe this book should be in the personal library of every high school mathematics teacher because many of the puzzles and stories can be used as "fun" enrichment in the high school mathematics classroom."
Tom Becvar, St Louis University High School, US
“This an entertaining book in which an experienced mathematician and educator examines key issues in education and others concerns of society. … The book is a great source of enjoyment to the reader interested in logical reasoning and in seeing how mathematics is part of our daily life. Those teaching mathematics will find in the book a source of examples to be used to break the monotony of daily classroom routine. It is a very pleasant and interesting book!” (Corina Mohorianu, Zentralblatt MATH, Vol. 1186, 2010)