Read Magical Mathematics: The Mathematical Ideas That Animate Great Magic Tricks by Persi Diaconis Ron Graham Online


Magical Mathematics reveals the secrets of fun-to-perform card tricks--and the profound mathematical ideas behind them--that will astound even the most accomplished magician. Persi Diaconis and Ron Graham provide easy, step-by-step instructions for each trick, explaining how to set up the effect and offering tips on what to say and do while performing it. Each card trick iMagical Mathematics reveals the secrets of fun-to-perform card tricks--and the profound mathematical ideas behind them--that will astound even the most accomplished magician. Persi Diaconis and Ron Graham provide easy, step-by-step instructions for each trick, explaining how to set up the effect and offering tips on what to say and do while performing it. Each card trick introduces a new mathematical idea, and varying the tricks in turn takes readers to the very threshold of today's mathematical knowledge.Diaconis and Graham tell the stories--and reveal the best tricks--of the eccentric and brilliant inventors of mathematical magic. The book exposes old gambling secrets through the mathematics of shuffling cards, explains the classic street-gambling scam of three-card Monte, traces the history of mathematical magic back to the oldest mathematical trick--and much more....

Title : Magical Mathematics: The Mathematical Ideas That Animate Great Magic Tricks
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780691151649
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 244 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Magical Mathematics: The Mathematical Ideas That Animate Great Magic Tricks Reviews

  • Brian Clegg
    2019-01-31 09:21

    This is an oddity of a popular maths book in that the approachable bits of the book aren't, on the whole, about maths but about magic. Magic is a strange topic - for me, certainly, it has a fascination. When I was at school I briefly flirted with the school's magical society, but in the end I hadn't the patience to practice the tricks over and over again until they were slick enough to be worth watching. I wanted instant magic that didn't require sleight of hand ability. The other interesting thing about magic as a topic is that we seem, mostly, to have lost patience with the traditional forms. On the TV show Britain's Got Talent, magicians mostly don't fare well as the audience and judges don't have the patience to sit through the build. We love Derren Brown's dramatic showmanship, but not traditional tricks. This means that Persi Diaconis and Ron Graham have a potentially difficult audience.Magical Mathematics really has three different threads interwoven. There's biographical information about magicians (this is the smallest part). There are details of how to do tricks. And there's the maths behind the tricks. These are actual tricks which at first sight should have appealed to my young self because they are worked by mathematics - the magician need have no physical dexterity. This sounds horribly like the kind of recreational maths (you know, magic squares and the like) that mathematicians get all excited about but for most people cause big yawns. However, when you look at some of these tricks in terms of the effect, they are very impressive. I particularly like one where five spectators each cut a pack of cards in turn, then take a card each. They are asked to do a simple thing (everyone with a red card stands up), and the magician then tells each of them which card they are holding. That really is impressive.Of course there's no gain without pain, and in the case of this trick, though there is no dexterity required, you do have to remember (or otherwise access) quite a lot of information. Even so it's a great trick, and the maths behind it, on de Bruijn sequences (don't ask) is also really interesting, including some real world applications of the mathematical structure that's used. This is by far the most engaging bit of the book - but even here, the maths isn't particularly well explained. I didn't really get the first explanation and it was only because there's a second chapter dedicated to the applications that I grasped what was going on. It's not complicated, it's just that the explanation isn't particularly well written.Other sections of the book proved less interesting. The tricks were not so impressive or the maths was obscure, hard to follow and, frankly, more than a little dull. It got even worse when juggling was brought into the mix, something that, along with mimes, should have been banished from the world many years ago. Only jugglers appreciate juggling.The underlying thesis, that you can do real, entertaining magic driven by maths was interesting (though I wish it hadn't concentrated so much on card magic, which is one of the less appealing aspects of the business). The idea of combining explanations of tricks with info on the maths was good too. But overall the book (and I've no idea why it's in a near-coffee table format) didn't really work for me.Review first published on and reproduced with permission

  • Blaise Pascal
    2019-01-17 01:16

    THis book is a good mix of mathematics and self-working magic tricks. It tells of a number of mathematical principles or results by introducing them with a magic trick, explaining how it works, expanding on the explanation to a more general form, and showing how other tricks can be built based off that generalization. The book is full of history and personal anecdotes about mathematics and magic as well.Both authors are accomplished mathematicians and magicians, and many of the tricks in the book are claimed inventions. But many more are credited to other magicians, usually with a mention of where it was first published. I felt this was a good way of dealing with the "magicians keeping secrets" aspect, because by giving credit to where it was first published, they make clear that the secrets had already been revealed.This book will not turn you into an accomplished magician, but it is also clear about that. It emphasises that the performance aspects of even self-working tricks are important to good magic, and often suggests practicing tricks dozens or hundreds of times to get them down before performing them for an audience. Many of the tricks given to demonstrate generalization of the basic mathematical principles are given with the caveat that the trick isn't very good from a performance standpoint, and challenges the reader to develop it into a performable trick. This very much encourages the reader to get involved, which is a good thing.

  • Woflmao
    2019-01-30 07:26

    Magic tricks are algorithms (at least the mathematical ones), and so this is a book about algorithm engineering; the math(s) involved is the same you would find in any book on algorithms - combinatorics, a bit of permutation group theory and some graph theory.I got the impression that the authors weren't sure what kind of book they wanted to write - a math book or a magic book. In the first chapters they still make an effort to explain the math and even give some proofs of the easier results, but shy away from explaining the more difficult and more important results, and in the later course of the book they simply explain how to do the magic tricks and do not bother explaining the math much.Mathematicians tend to jump on everything that could make math more popular with the general public, and I suppose that explains the excitement in the reviews for this book. However, personally, I did not have a great affinity to magic before reading this book, and I did not get one while reading it (and I really don't care about juggling). The book is "ok" both from content and from theexplanations, there is a nice mix of anecdotes and history of (mathematical) magic.

  • Zachary
    2019-02-16 07:15

    Most of the chapters were good tricks and generally understandable math. Cut-deck+turn-two trick (chapter 1), mind-reading effect (chapter 4), and miracle divination (chapter 7) were my favorites. On the other hand, several chapters were too dense and lost me in the math. I would re-read several of the paragraphs trying to 'get it' before eventually moving on. This was likely a problem of the reader and not the author. I do appreciate that the author treats the reader as an adult and doesn't spoon feed the solution; I am sure that the process of doing the work is probably the only way to really learn the material.I surprisingly found the most enjoyable parts of the book to be those that dealt with the stories of the community of magicians that developed the tricks. Quite a talented and interesting group. note: make sure to have several decks of cards available while reading the book. one story struck me:"After about a day and a half of talk, we wanted to show Stewart a card trick with his own deck. Up to this time, all the tricks were done "in the air" by talking them through rather than performing them. We asked to borrow a deck. He answered, 'This may sound strange but I don't have a real deck of cards in the house - haven't had one for four or five years.' Keep in mind that all this time Stewart was producing a monthly column of card tricks and contributing dozens of other articles to various magic journals. He explained, "After all, when Agatha Christie write a murder mystery, she doesn't have to go out and kill somebody."and this trick's description was my favorite:"Long distance mind reading. You mail an ordinary pack of cards to anyone, requesting him to shuffle and select a card. He shuffles again and returns only half the pack to you, not intimating whether or not it contains his card. By return mail, you name the card he selected."

  • Yofish
    2019-01-30 05:35

    A little disappointing. I mean, this was Diaconis! (and Ron Graham). But just really bad at both math and magic. Not enough detail on the math (and I don't think that it was just because I wanted more proof and stuff---there really just wasn't enough description of the math to make sense of what they were talking about). Actually, pretty much the same for the magic. I understand that it's hard to describe card tricks in writing. But they set out to write a book! They have to do better than that! Some interesting biographies at the end of magicians of the 20th century who used math for some of their tricks. The part on juggling was pretty good.

  • Pix Smith
    2019-02-17 01:30

    Good book, and interesting if you are into the math. Sometimes the concepts took a couple of reads, but some of that has to do with the page breaks and layout, for which I can't really fault the authors. All in all, I enjoyed this, and it had some mind stretching thinking, with some pretty cool results. It isn't though, for the faint of heart or the casual reader by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Jo Oehrlein
    2019-01-17 07:42

    I really grazed this book, rather than intently reading it. I thought it would be more recreational math and it is truly lots of magic and then the explanation is math. It starts off with lots of card tricks. There's graph theory and combinatorics and coding theory in abundance. It's clear that what makes many magic tricks is the showmanship of the magician.

  • Josh McDevitt-Spall
    2019-01-26 04:38

    Brian nails it at the opening of his review. The approachable bits are about magic. I'm a huge math geek, but was mostly lost reading the mathematical explanations. I thought perhaps this book would make the math understandable/relatable. Big disappointment.

  • Yared
    2019-02-09 08:21

    i think i like the book

  • Dana Kraft
    2019-01-22 05:24

    This book is pretty heavy - not for the casual fan of either magic or math. I enjoy math but learned that while I love watching a great magician, I don't really care how the tricks are done.

  • Travis
    2019-01-28 06:25

    More math than I was expecting and I'm not as interested in magic as I thought.