Why Did The Math Book Go On A Diet?

Why Did The Math Book Go On A Diet?

A popular mathematics teaching book will go on a diet in one of its editions. A committee of mathematicians and educators has decided that many of the 3100 exercises in their 1994 edition are too easy or repetitive.

So they plan to drop half the problems in the 2000 problems for this fall’s 14th edition, along with some topics from eight other chapters. They’ll add material from widely used books by math education superstars like Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird, “The Heart of Mathematics,” Robert Jaffe, “Conceptual Mathematics,” and Gisbert W.

Selke, “Mathematics: Excellence without Excess.” Last week, the decision was announced at an open meeting sponsored by The Mathematical Association of America in Washington.

“It’s a sign of the times,” said David Bressoud, president of MAA. “There are wonderful advances in mathematics that students need to know about.” The revised book will be called “Mathematics: A Human Endeavor.” While the second edition of “Prealgebra and Introductory Algebra for College Students” by Patrick Suppes is still available, the new edition will mark its replacement over most of North America.

The committee includes some renowned math educators, like Susan Stodolsky, author of “Problems with Problems;” Istvan Hargittai, an expert on problem-solving; Lawrence C. Evans, who has written many books on statistics and probability; Umesh Vazirani, a computer scientist who is also the author of two very successful math books; and David P. Bressoud, the president of MAA.

This committee has been in charge of revising most editions of this popular book since about 1979. The latest edition is called “Mathematics: A Human Endeavor” due to its focus on problem-solving highlights rather than computational skills.

This revised version focuses more on using real-life problems instead of computational drills. It focuses on mathematical proofs and development, which were not emphasized much earlier (but now they should be).

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