In this intriguing book, John Barnes takes us on a journey through aspects of numbers much as he took us on a geometrical journey in Gems of Geometry. Similarly originating from a series of lectures for adult students at Reading and Oxford University, this book touches a variety of amusing and fascinating topics regarding numbers and their uses both ancient and modern. The author intrigues and challenges his audience with both fundamental number topics such as prime numbers and cryptography, and themes of daily needs and pleasures such as counting one's assets, keeping track of time, and enjoying music. Puzzles and exercises at the end of each lecture offer additional inspiration, and numerous illustrations accompany the reader. Furthermore, a number of appendices provides in-depth insights into diverse topics such as Pascal’s triangle, the Rubik cube, Mersenne’s curious keyboards, and many others. A theme running through is the thought of what is our favourite number.
Written in an engaging and witty style and requiring only basic school mathematical knowledge, this book will appeal to both young and mature readers fascinated by the curiosities of numbers.