Jordan Ellenberg wants to answer the question that is the bane of every mathematics teacher: “When am I ever going to use this?” The answers to that question are legion: you could win the lottery, save a plane from being shot down, or accurately read public opinion. Ellenburg should know, too, since he’s a professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, a researcher into arithmetic geometry, a graduate of Harvard, a Putnam Fellow, and a former child math prodigy. Most recently, though, he’s the author of “How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking,” available from Penguin Press.
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