I recently read the book How to Bake Pi by Eugenia Cheng. Cheng discusses what math really is and in an easy to read context that keeps you intrigued. Her goal isn’t to discuss math in terms of what is learned at the high school level, but rather seen through category theory, something she feels very passionate about. Through category theory, math becomes less about numbers and formulas and more about how we see and understand things. She turns math, something that many people find difficult, into something tangible and describes how math is actually here to make the hard things easier. Her perspective on what math is is the focus of the book. She relates the field of math to cooking, something she is also very knowledgeable in.

Math relates to cooking in that it is made up of ingredients and methods. It is defined by the techniques it uses to study things, and that the things it studies are determined by those techniques.

I really liked this book because she helped me to understand what math is in a different perspective from my own and was able to bring in real-life applications that made the book more interesting and relatable. It was an easy book to read because her personality stood out through the book and her humor made the read more intriguing. When I met Eugenia and listened to her discussion on the book, it made me appreciate the book even more because I could put a voice to the things she was discussing and I could tell how passionate she was about math, in particular category theory but also cooking. I would recommend this book to many people, even those who don’t study the field of mathematics. I think this book appeals to diverse readers and could clear up common misconceptions in mathematics, like what math really is and what its purpose is. I am glad that I had the background in math that I did before reading though because I had a deeper understanding in some of the material she was presenting. Reading this during my Capstone, I was able to understand topics she was discussing from the math classes at Grand Valley I have taken: hypothesis testing from Stats 312, proofs by contradiction and transitivity from Math 210, Fermat’s Last Theorem from Math 495, binary operations and identities from Math 310, axiomatized geometry from Euclidean Geometry, matrices from Linear Algebra….(the list goes on). This book was a great way for me to reflect on the many things I have learned in the past few years and see how they all connect and how they can be applied. Oh, and I also have a great collection of recipes now since there was one at the beginning of each chapter.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Mathematics is the study of anything that obeys the rules of logic, using the rules of logic.”

“Mathematics is like a marathon, the point is the journey itself, not the arrival at the destination.”

“Math works like Legos. You start with some basic building blocks and some ways of sticking them together, and then you see what you can build.”

“Category Theory seeks to illuminate math.”

Math relates to cooking in that it is made up of ingredients and methods. It is defined by the techniques it uses to study things, and that the things it studies are determined by those techniques.

I really liked this book because she helped me to understand what math is in a different perspective from my own and was able to bring in real-life applications that made the book more interesting and relatable. It was an easy book to read because her personality stood out through the book and her humor made the read more intriguing. When I met Eugenia and listened to her discussion on the book, it made me appreciate the book even more because I could put a voice to the things she was discussing and I could tell how passionate she was about math, in particular category theory but also cooking. I would recommend this book to many people, even those who don’t study the field of mathematics. I think this book appeals to diverse readers and could clear up common misconceptions in mathematics, like what math really is and what its purpose is. I am glad that I had the background in math that I did before reading though because I had a deeper understanding in some of the material she was presenting. Reading this during my Capstone, I was able to understand topics she was discussing from the math classes at Grand Valley I have taken: hypothesis testing from Stats 312, proofs by contradiction and transitivity from Math 210, Fermat’s Last Theorem from Math 495, binary operations and identities from Math 310, axiomatized geometry from Euclidean Geometry, matrices from Linear Algebra….(the list goes on). This book was a great way for me to reflect on the many things I have learned in the past few years and see how they all connect and how they can be applied. Oh, and I also have a great collection of recipes now since there was one at the beginning of each chapter.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Mathematics is the study of anything that obeys the rules of logic, using the rules of logic.”

“Mathematics is like a marathon, the point is the journey itself, not the arrival at the destination.”

“Math works like Legos. You start with some basic building blocks and some ways of sticking them together, and then you see what you can build.”

“Category Theory seeks to illuminate math.”