Books

Fluke: The Math and Myth of Coincidences
Delving into the mathematics of our poetic twists of fate, Mazur has written a book that will appeal to anyone who has ever wondered how all of the tiny decisions and coincidences that happen in our lives add up to what can seem like an impossibly improbable whole. A must-read for math enthusiasts and story-tellers alike, Fluke helps us to understand the true nature of chance, and thus, of life itself.

Enlightening Symbols: A short History of Mathematical Notation and its Hidden Powers
Traversing mathematical history, and the foundations of numerals in different cultures, Enlightening Symbols looks at how historians have disagreed over the origins of the numerical system for the past two centuries. It follows the transfigurations of algebra, from a rhetorical style to a symbolic one, demonstrating that most of algebra before the sixteenth century was written in prose or in verse employing the written names of numerals. The book also investigates the subconscious and psychological effects that mathematical symbols have had on mathematical thought, moods, meaning, communication, and comprehension. It considers how these symbols influence us (through similarity, association, identity, resemblance, and repeated imagery), how they lead to new ideas by subconscious associations, how they make connections between experience and the unknown, and how they contribute to the communication of basic mathematics.
From words to abbreviations to symbols, this book examines how math evolved to the familiar forms we use today.





What's Luck Got To Do With It?
What's Luck Got to Do With It? The History, Mathematics, and Psychology behind the Illusion of Luck in Gambling (232 pages, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-13890-9) Now available.
Centering on the general mathematics of gambling, primarily on probability and statistics through a simple tutorial on what probability and statistics are about, this book moves on to explain expected value, the law of large numbers, coincidences, distribution functions and the mathematics of decision making. And that will give a partial idea—the mathematical piece—of what luck in gambling really is. Internet gambling, along with the usual Internet risks, is now popular, along with reality TV shows such as Deal or No Deal, which counts on both the psychological makeup of the contestants as well as on how little those contestants know about the mathematics of decision-making. Greed and compulsivity are behind the essential entertainment factors of those shows. The psychology of the audiences and contestants is investigated along with the contestant’s mixed problems of greed and stardom craving. Some compound combination of greed, ignorance of expected value and moment-of-fame glory takes over. And this will supply the psychological answer to the question of what luck really is.
Ultimately, we begin to understand greed and luck in gambling as well as why people accept bets with negative expectation and finally answer the central question of the book from both mathematical and psychological positions—what makes us feel lucky in gambling?

Japanese translations of --

Euclid in The Rainforest

The Motion Paradox

Number: the Language of Science

The Motion Paradox: The 2,500-Year-Old Puzzle Behind the Mysteries of Time and Space
Listed by the The Library Journal as one of the best Sci-Tech books of 2006, the Motion Paradox begins with how Zeno and the Ancient Greeks understood motion, moves to Renaissance thinkers such as Galileo and then discusses the unparalled contributions of Isaac Newton. Nineteenth century ideas are then explored before moving on to the two revolutions of the twentieth century--relativity and quantum mechanics.



Euclid in the Rainforest: Discovering Universal Truth in Logic and Math
Euclid in the Rainforest (one of two Finalists of the 2005 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction and chosen as one of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles of the Year 2005, and chosen by the Guardian as one of the ten best ever books in the category of popular math) examines the three types of logic: the classical logic of the Ancient Greeks, the bewildering logic of infinity, and the everyday logic of plausible reasoning that guides all science today.

Editor of Number: The Language of Science
From the rudimentary mathematical abilities of prehistoric man to the counterintuitive and bizarre ideas at the edges of modern math, this masterpiece of science writing tells the story of mathematics through the history of its most central concept: number.

Selected Works

Nonfiction
What are the chances? This is the question we ask ourselves when we encounter the freakiest and most seemingly impossible coincidences, like the woman who won the lottery four times or the fact that Lincoln’s dreams foreshadowed his own assassination.
Hardly any math symbols were used before the sixteenth century. What did mathematicians rely on for their work before then? And how did mathematical notations evolve to what we know of today? Enlightening Symbols explains the fascinating history behind the development of our current mathematical notation system, shows how symbols were used initially, how one symbol replaced another over time, and how written math was conveyed before and after symbols became widely adopted.
Princeton University Press (2010). A book about the nature of gambling, emphasizing the dangers and pitfalls of feeling lucky. It will investigate the hooks of gambling and what makes gamblers feel lucky. Using both mathematics and psychology it will illustrate the misconceptions of luck, explore what it means to have a good chance, and to create an awareness of expected outcomes.
Published by Dutton in April 2007. Now available in bookstores. "THIS is one of the most fascinating science books I have ever read . . . Mazur has succeeded in telling a fresh and untold story with clarity and style." -- The New Scientist
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles of the Year 2005-- “This book is a treasure of human experience and intellectual excitement.”
--Choice
Editor of the revived classic by Tobias Dantzig, Number: The Language of Science.