Why Do Buses Come In Threes? – Rob Eastaway and Jeremy Wyndham

Why Do Buses Come In Threes? The hidden mathematics of everyday lifewhy do buses

I love reading and can often be found with my head in a book, although I tend to prefer fiction books, therefore I was worried I would find a non-fiction maths book uninteresting. However, this book completely changed my opinion.

Why Do Buses Come In Threes? takes everyday problems and tries to explain (and solve) them using maths. The book covers a wide range of topics meaning there is definitely something for everyone to relate to and understand.

Each chapters’ title is a question regarding a different real world problem which piques curiosity. The chapter then applies maths to the problem in order to explain or solve the problem. The maths referred to throughout the book is clearly explained with examples and diagrams.

Examples of these chapters include ‘Why do clever people get things wrong?’, ‘What’s the best bet?’ and ‘How do you explain a coincidence?’.

The real world applications made the book interesting to read and has encouraged me to further consider the maths of my day to day life. For example, before I had never considered the mathematics of queues yet this book even featured a formula for queuing. I can now be found explaining to my family queues whilst we are stuck in them.

My favourite part of the book lies within the logic section, aptly titled ‘Whodunnit?’ referring to Sherlock Holmes’ deductions which allowed him to solve many mysteries. One section of this chapter featured logic gates, which form the basis of all computers, having studied these as part of a Computing course last year I found this of particular interest, alongside the number trick introduced at the end which can be used as an introduction to the binary number system.

However, my favourite chapter overall is the last, ‘How Can I Entertain the Kids?’ which introduces maths magic tricks which I promptly used to bedazzle my family. For me, this was the ideal conclusion to the book.
It also summaries the tone of the book, it didn’t take itself too seriously (which I was dreading when I started reading). The authors have included jokes and puns throughout e.g. the example they used to explain game theory which involved two teenage boys competing for a girl.

The book flowed well as each chapter looked at a different area, this meant each chapter was perhaps light on detail but there was still more than enough to understand the concept. This worked for me, as at no point did I feel inundated with information about one small topic. Having finished this book I feel I have a broader understanding of mathematics and its applications.
I now plan on reading ‘How Long is a Piece of String? More hidden mathematics of everyday life’ the follow up book.
I would recommend this book to everyone, the maths is all explained with no previous knowledge assumed which makes it accessible to all readers, regardless of mathematical ability.


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