Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How To Bake Pi.

Antiquariat, Old Cookbook, Cookbook   The other day I stumbled across the book, How To Bake Pi: An edible exploration of the mathematics of mathematics by Eugenia Chang.  The title alone peaked my interest because I love both mathematics and cooking.

Contrary to what you might think, it is both a cookbook and a book on math but the author manages to relate the two.

I admit, I'm not very far into the book but I am impressed with her approach. Each chapter begins with a recipe but the rest of the chapter discusses math in terms of much of the recipe.

Chapter one looks at the question "What is Math".  It begins with a recipe for Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies.  She equates math and recipes because they both have ingredients and method.  She shows how important it is to have both so the results are good.  I like the way she discussed math being about technique. 

She takes time to discuss how with many of the same ingredients, its the technique which changes the results.  For instance, potatoes can be prepared using different techniques which effect the end result.
Chapter eleven looks at relationships.  It starts with a recipe for Porridge and promptly asks how big is a cup?  She goes on to point out that as long as its all done using the same cup, its doesn't matter the size of the cup because of the relationship.

She takes time to use real life examples of the same concept to help relate it. Back in the first chapter, she discusses characterizing  something by what it does by using the Prime Minister for example.  She goes on to point out that its hard to describe math because once we have a technique we can apply it to more and more things.

Its like beginning with roasting potatoes but you can also roast sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, asparagus, kale, and all sorts of other vegetables.  As you find more things to study, you find more techniques that apply.  Kind of like the chicken and the egg.

In chapter two she talks about abstractions which she says are actually blueprints.  Its like cottage pie, shepherd's pie or fisherman's pies are all about the same in they have a mashed potato topping but the filling is different.

I love the way she uses facets of cooking to relate it to math in general.  I usually prefer finishing the book but its currently on sale in Kindle format for $1.99.  Its well worth the money.  Have fun and let me know what you think of the idea.