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Martin Gardner's Mathematical Games: The Entire Collection of His Scientific American Columns

Martin Gardner
Mathematical Association of America
Publication Date: 
BLL Rating: 

The Basic Library List Committee recommends this book for acquisition by undergraduate mathematics libraries.

[Reviewed by
Charles Ashbacher
, on

It is an indisputable fact that Martin Gardner has done more to excite people about mathematics than anyone else. In fact, he is so far ahead of everyone else in that category that he would need a powerful telescope just to see the crowd bunched in second place. His writings are so clear and entertaining that in a review of one of his books I said that if there were a mathematics of watching paint dry, Martin Gardner could make it interesting. While he wrote many things, his primary mathematical venue was his 31 years of “Mathematical Games” columns in Scientific American. This CD contains the complete collection of all his “MG” columns as well as an interview that includes many photos.

The CD contains a copy of Acrobat 6.0.1 that will be used for the display if autorun is enabled on a Windows machine. Macintosh users must install the reader first and the CD contains the installer for Macintosh Reader version 6.0.1.

One feature that is of enormous benefit is that the collection is indexed. If you are like me, you remember general features about a column but have long forgotten what the title of the article was or even the year in which it appeared. I have also regularly used the index in my work as co-editor of Journal of Recreational Mathematics, for submitted manuscripts generally contain references to previous work and I often find that Gardner wrote something about that topic.

All mathematicians owe a debt to Martin Gardner and can learn from reading what he wrote. This CD is an opportunity to explore and appreciate what should be prized, the musings of a true master of explaining mathematics.

Charles Ashbacher splits his time between consulting with industry in projects involving math and computers, teaching college classes and co-editing The Journal of Recreational Mathematics. In his spare time, he reads about these things and helps his daughter in her lawn care business.


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