Math with Taste, Not Tests

9780465097678_e1ae6A front page feature in the NYT‘s Science section sent How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics, Eugenia Cheng (Perseus/PGW/Legato/Basic Books) racing up the Amazon sales rankings.

Currently #136 (up from 4,803), the book mixes fundamental mathematical principles with recipes, offering Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies to get things going. Don’t expect a cookbook however; Dr. Cheng is focused on the math, offering an accessible, quirky, and clever tour of how it works.

The NYT‘s feature highlights Dr. Cheng’s mission as a “math popularizer,” pointing out her rising fame – she has been a guest on Late Night With Stephen Colbert and hosts extraordinarily popular online math tutorials – and her conviction that “the pleasures of math can be conveyed to the legions of numbers-averse humanities majors still recovering from high school algebra.”

To get a sense of Dr. Cheng’s culinary chops, the article offers a recipe for Bach pie, a treat to honor the composer mathematicians adore, complete with “an Escher-like braid of four glazed pastry plaits that followed divergent trajectories, never quite crisscrossing where you expected them to.”

The paperback edition of How to Bake Pi goes on sale next week. Libraries we checked are seeing steady circ. on the hardback edition, which came out last year.

For all those going to BEA, Cheng is a participant in this year’s Day of Dialog, a featured author of the Art of Nonfiction panel.

Below, she frightens Colbert:

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