Lewis Carroll in Numberland, By Robin Wilson

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The Independent Culture

Delighted by Alice in Wonderland, Queen Victoria famously requested "the next book Mr Carroll produces", only to receive An Elementary Treatise on Determinants (1867).

Charles Dodgson (aka Carroll), a Mathematical Lecturer at Christ Church, Oxford, denied the story, but Robin Wilson, Gresham Professor of Geometry at London, is not so sure.

Exploring the academic side of Carroll, he includes glorious snippets from Wonderland ("We called him Tortoise because he taught us") though even the more playful mathematic inclusions, such as a "proof" that "every triangle is isosceles" and Carroll's ingenious proposals for tennis seeding (only adopted in the 1940s) are beyond some of us. Though tough going for the numerically hazy, this book reveals the wellsprings of Wonderland.

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