TITLE: The Tang of Adventure, and a Lively Appreciation AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: October 11, 2013 1:42 PM DESC: ----- BODY: "After you've learned the twelve times table," John Yarnelle asks, "what else is there to do?"
The concepts of modern mathematics give the student something else to do in great abundance and variety at all levels of his development. Not only may he discover unusual types of mathematical structures where, believe it or not, two and two does not equal four, but he may even be privileged to invent a new system virtually on his own. Far from a sense of stagnation, there is the tang of adventure, the challenge of exploration; perhaps also a livelier appreciation of the true nature of mathematical activity and mathematical thought.
Not only the tang of adventure; students might also come to appreciate what math really is. That's an admirable goal for any book or teacher. This passage comes from Yarnelle's Finite Mathematical Structures, a 1964 paperback that teaches fields, groups, and algebras with the prose of a delighted teacher. I picked this slender, 66-page gem up off a pile of books being discarded by a retired math professor a decade ago. How glad I am that none of the math profs who walked past that pile bothered to claim it before I happened by. We could use a few CS books like this, too. -----