How should a democracy choose its representatives? How can you stop a pandemic from sweeping the world? How do computers learn to play Go, and why is learning Go so much easier for them than learning to read a sentence? Can ancient Greek proportions predict the stock market? (Sorry, no.) What should your kids learn in school if they really want to learn to think? All these are questions about geometry. For real. If you're like most people, geometry is a sterile and dimly remembered exercise you gladly left behind in the dust of ninth grade, along with your braces and active romantic interest in pop singers. If you recall any of it, it's plodding through a series of miniscule steps only to prove some fact about triangles that was obvious to you in the first place. That's not geometry. Okay, it is geometry, but only a tiny part, which has as much to do with geometry in all its flush modern richness as conjugating a verb has to do with a great novel. Shape reveals the geometry underneath some of the most important scientific, political, and philosophical problems we face.
... unreasonably entertaining ... Ellenberg’s preference for deploying all possible teaching strategies gives Shape its hectic appeal; it’s stuffed with history, games, arguments, exercises ... For all Ellenberg’s wit and play [...] the real work of Shape is in codifying that geometry on the page.
To Ellenberg, geometry is like poetry: able to mold and delight the human mind. But it is also deeply practical — poetry you can use to build houses. Art, then, as well as science: With geometry you can have your cake and cut it into symmetric pieces too ... Ellenberg’s skill as a storyteller, combined with a natural ability to spot otherwise obscure connections, enables him to capitalize on geometry as math’s gateway drug ... Ellenberg gives his inner tour guide free rein and geometry becomes the shortest narrative path between any two seemingly disparate mathematical points. It makes for a deeply enjoyable and insightful book.
Ellenberg introduces readers to a bevy of relatable mathematical concepts ... Also eye-opening are the author’s discussions of pandemics ... Ellenberg offers an engrossing discussion of how geometry can help in the fight against gerrymandering. Serious mathematics at its intriguing, transporting best.