The Arithmetic of Life

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9780345426314: The Arithmetic of Life

Life can make sense. All it takes is an open mind,
a few good numbers, and some simple arithmetic.

In The Arithmetic of Life and Death, George Shaffner brings to life the great wisdom inherent in equations as elementary as 1 + 1 = 2. For in the Information Age, numbers are the bottom line. Though many of us live in a blissful state where the memory of high school math classes have long receded from our synapses, if you can't master simple math--from your raise to the rise of inflation, your weekly family budget to the yearly federal deficit, sales tax to income tax, peaks in the stock market to drops in your cholesterol levels--you may go down for the count.

But don't despair. Shaffner's math meditations can show you how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide your way to deeper understanding. His math philosophy gives you real life lessons on how to think about numbers--minus the pain. The Arithmetic of Life and Death applies the basic principles of mathematics to some of the most profound, troubling, and just plain puzzling questions of our time.

Each chapter explains a unique facet of life that can only be understood through the magic of numbers. Whether it's a daring rumination on why more things go wrong in life than right, how much it will cost you to smoke for a lifetime, why crime (accumulatively) doesn't pay, why the probability that you would turn out to be you is one in billions of trillions, why meetings were invented (now there's a mystery), or the likelihood of life after death, this illuminating and lucidly reasoned book will forever change the way you think about numbers.

It's a contemplative philosophy for the post-modern age. It's The Arithmetic of Life and Death.

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Review:

George Shaffner is an entrepreneur and computer maven, so when he started writing essays on mathematics he did it in a very practical way, to help people answer questions such as "Should I stay in school?" or "Is there life after death?" Soon he expanded into a whole book, but kept his focus on the practical:

The design criteria for Arithmetic became: Use real-life examples, use actual words and numbers, keep it short, and exterminate all equations with unknown stuff in them.

Shaffner uses a light touch: most of his essays involve one or another member of two imagined Seattle families, the Sharpes and the DeNialls. Shaffner puts together an unusual but effective mix of humor, logic, statistics, and insight: he is probably correct that there would be less innumeracy if most math education was like this. --Mary Ellen Curtin

About the Author:

George Shaffner has worked in the computer industry for twenty years, most recently as CEO or COO of three international computer companies. He is the father of three children, who are all math refugees.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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