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The Bookshelf: April 2, 2015

In this week's Bookshelf, our content partner Kirkus Reviews highlights How to Bake Pi.

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Trib+Edu is joining with respected books authority Kirkus Reviews to bring you select reviews of books of note in the field of education. For more book reviews and recommendations, visit

HOW TO BAKE PI: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics

by Eugenia Cheng

An original book using recipes to explain sophisticated math concepts to students and even the math-phobic.

In a chapter on generalization, Cheng begins with a recipe she adapted to produce a cake that was vegan as well as gluten-, sugar-, and dairy-free, thus extending the recipe’s usefulness to serve more people. A chapter on axiomatization describes the difference between basic ingredients and things you can make with basic ingredients. Math uses basic ingredients — axioms — that are assumed to be true and proofs that use hard logic to derive new truths … She also discusses internal vs. external motivation. In cooking, this is the difference between looking at what is on the shelves and figuring out how to use it in a recipe you invent (internal motivation) versus having a recipe in mind and gathering all the ingredients you need to make it (external) … A sharp, witty book to press on students and even the teachers of math teachers.

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