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Old 2004-11-09, 00:52   #1
Xyzzy
 
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"Mike"
Aug 2002

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Default Text books...

I got tasked with tutoring geometry to one of my friend's children... This is pretty funny given my poor math skills, but I figured, how hard would it be to get back up to speed in elementry geometry?

So I went to gutenberg.org to look for an elementry text on geometry and didn't find anything...

I'm guessing that elementry geometry hasn't changed much in the last hundred years...

Anyways, this got me to thinking:

My wife spends a small fortune on text books for college, and they are pretty lame books... Most are over $100, soft cover and very devoid of content... Most of the meat of the books has been replaced with glitzty graphs and charts and most of the books require you to buy add-on software and accessory books... Most teachers don't even use the books it seems, but they require that you buy them...

I can see the need for new book for hot fields that are changing every day, but for algebra? Trig? Or any other static field? Releasing a new book just with a few edits seems stupid, and it makes it near impossible to sell the books after the class...

My dream if I ever become a billionaire:

I would commission a panel of experts to write a "free" set of textbooks to cover probably 90% of what a student needs... I think this could be done at least to cover all the way through high school... Then schools and students could just print out the files or read them online... Keeping them updated would be simple since they are electronic...

A long time ago I needed to learn algebra but I didn't want to spend $50 for a current book... My school library had an old algebra book from 1890, and it turned out to be the best book I ever read on the subject... There were no pictures or charts or graphs... No calculator exercises... Just good info, laid out well, with a minimum of fluff... I wish all books were like that...

If anyone knows a good book for geometry, or an online tutoral, please let me know... The ones I have found online just regurgitate facts without explaining them...

Edit: What would be really neat would be a recommended list of math books, geared towards students, not mathematicians... (With an emphasis on being easy to teach from!)
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Old 2004-11-09, 04:00   #2
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The word problems might get out dated though. Instead of a modern: "Jamie has a 4 clips that hold 14 rounds each, and he can load a round in the chamber. What precent more rounds could he carry if he switched to 5 17-round clips." You might have an example like: "Samuel can place 14 bales of hay on his wagon, each of his 4 cows will eat 30 bales through the winter. How mny trips to the general store will Samuel need to make."
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Old 2004-11-09, 05:23   #3
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Text books are way overpriced. Some teachers realize this and try to be easy on students, while others don't care at all. I've only ever had one textbook that actually required a recent version, since it was a political science book and had stuff recent within the last two years.

Anyway, I'm not sure if this fits your needs, but you should checkout the Wikibooks website (run by the same people as Wikipedia). Here is the link URL for an algebra 'book.' I'm not sure if it fits your requirements, but it doesn't hurt to check it out.

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Algebra

Andrew
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Old 2004-11-15, 22:34   #4
philmoore
 
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This is something I got interested in when I read "Free Software, Free Society" by Richard Stallman, the guru of the free software movement. (They prefer the word "free" to "open source".) I thought, algebra really hasn't changed much since I was in high school years ago, so why do textbook publishers insist on coming out with expensive new editions of their texts every three years? (Actually, I know the answer$!) As a community college math instructor, we expend hours of effort in new textbook searches forced on us by the book publishers. I would like to see a "canonical" algebra textbook cooperatively written by several interested math teachers and offered as "freeware". People who find that the book almost, but doesn't quite, meet their course needs could modify it to their satisfaction, students could either download it from the web or buy printed copies at low cost from their college bookstores, and instructors could continually improve the book by rewriting sections or adding new ones.

As I see it, this project would need three things to get off the ground:
1) Suitable software for the book itself. It would need to handle graphics as well as standard mathematical notation.
2) A good chapter-by-chapter outline along with some sort of tree diagram showing which chapters depend on which chapters. Different chapters would be included in the required texts for algebra courses at different levels. (Introductory, intermediate, and "college" algebra are the main levels here at our community college.) A student taking intermediate algebra finding that they are missing out on some topic covered in introductory algebra could always look up that earlier chapter on the web. Different versions of the book could be tailored to different classes with different emphases.
3) A group of people willing to write some preliminary chapters to get the thing off the ground. I haven't looked into this yet, but it might even be possible to locate some grant money for such a project. However, getting at least a few preliminary chapters written first would probably improve the prospects of locating some money.

I've done some thinking about (2), but probably won't have too much time for such a project until next summer. Still, it would be interesting to hear if anyone has any ideas to add. I'm especially interested in question (1).

Phil M.
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Old 2004-11-15, 22:39   #5
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Why not rip stuff that has fallen into the PD.
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Old 2004-11-15, 23:12   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philmoore
algebra really hasn't changed much since I was in high school years ago,

...

3) ... some preliminary chapters to get the thing off the ground.
I'm with Uncwilly on this one. Why not find an old algebra text book that is now in the Public Domain and use it as the starter?

William
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Old 2004-11-18, 05:10   #7
cheesehead
 
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Q: Why not public domain? A: Congress has been extending copyright time lengths. IIRC it's currently either 56 or 70 years! Every copyright issued during my lifetime is still in force!

Think about whether you really want to use pre-World War Two textbooks, even for math. I've seen my mother's beginning algebra textbook from her college years -- I wouldn't want any child today to be taught from it.

See http://promo.net/pg/vol/pd.html for copyright info. It's longer than I remembered!

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2004-11-18 at 05:18
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Old 2004-11-18, 05:25   #8
cheesehead
 
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(continued)

As you'll read at http://promo.net/pg/vol/pd.html the short version is that practically nothing is out of U.S. copyright unless it was published prior to 1923.

In other countries, generally copyright lasts until 70 years after the author's death. So almost nothing published after 1934 is yet in public domain.
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Old 2004-11-21, 15:34   #9
mfgoode
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Lightbulb Text books

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xyzzy
I got tasked with tutoring geometry to one of my friend's children... This is pretty funny given my poor math skills, but I figured, how hard would it be to get back up to speed in elementry geometry?

So I went to gutenberg.org to look for an elementry text on geometry and didn't find anything...

I'm guessing that elementry geometry hasn't changed much in the last hundred years...

Anyways, this got me to thinking:

...

If anyone knows a good book for geometry, or an online tutoral, please let me know... The ones I have found online just regurgitate facts without explaining them...

Edit: What would be really neat would be a recommended list of math books, geared towards students, not mathematicians... (With an emphasis on being easy to teach from!)

Heres one book I did for my Snr. Cambridge exam
Geometry: by H.S. Hall and F.H. Stevens first print 1903.
For ISc.
Euclid 13 books of the Eements:Sir Thomas L. Heath
first print 1956
They are both exellent books and I still have them in my library.
I could give other titles and subjects early 20th century I have in my
possession if so reqd.

Mally
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Old 2007-07-10, 17:09   #10
mfgoode
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Lightbulb Number theory.



This post is not on algebra or geometry but to update it I would like to recommend a book, I refer to often and keep at my bedside.

'Recreations in the the theory of Numbers- The queen of mathematics entertains' by Albert H. Beiler is excellent. It gives the basic theory on Numbers and also solved problems which are many (100's appx.)

Yeah you guessed it. This is the book I'm taking my problems from!

It is a Dover publication and printed in 1964. Don't get put off by the year !

Its as modern as it could be as number theory has not changed much since then except some new stuff by Pomerance et al.

Since most of us are interested in Number theory I thought I would pass on my tip to the newcomers who are struggling with this subject and being recreational it is all the more interesting!

Good reading and studying

Mally
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