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Friday, June 17, 2016

Some of Infinity

The Center of Math is proud to announce the publication of our first non-academic text– David Craft's Some of Infinity: Peaks in the Landscape of Mathematics!

"But with mathematics, the more we explore, the bigger the world gets, and thus, for those adventurers out there who always want more, welcome to the world of math."

-David Craft, Some of Infinity

Craft's Some of Infinity: Peaks in the Landscape of Mathematics sheds an entertaining light on mathematics, resulting in a perfect read for anyone with an interest in the subject. Some of Infinity examines the roots of mathematics, as each chapter in the novel is dedicated to a different mathematical concept. Craft delivers this wide array of information in a personable and simplistic way that is accessible to all types of readers. This allows his audience to grasp and appreciate the many layers of the book. Shying away from the academic writing style of most math books, Craft aims to show the scope of mathematics and the exploration that is possible. His passion for the subject is contagious and readers will undoubtedly adopt the endless possibilities of mathematics that Craft presents.

Topics covered in Some of Infinity: Peaks in the Landscape of Mathematics
& and many more!

A modern day Renaissance man, David Craft is well versed in many areas. He received his Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Brown, and went on to earn his Doctorate in Operations Research from MIT in 2004. Craft currently works for Harvard Medical School in oncology research, developing an algorithm for radiation planning. His many interests include Gallery 263, foraging, and creating music. 

For more about Craft's mathematical interests and career, we turn to a 2015 interview conducted by the Center of Math: 

So we’ve done a little research on your background, and you have a lot of interests, I can tell. What did you start with? What did you study at school?
     At undergraduate I studied mechanical engineering, and I studied… well, I usually say I studied applied math at MIT, but really it was a subject called Operations Research. It’s Applied Math for real world operations.

What do you do now? You are an assistant professor at Harvard Medical?
     Right, but it’s a pure research job. I have a nice position where it’s research, and I get to work on whatever I want in the field of radiation therapy for cancer treatment. So the basic idea is this: when you have a tumor that you have to hit with radiation, it’s like a puzzle- how to bring the radiation beams in. We try to conform to the target and try to avoid everything else. That’s the balance, it’s sort of a high dimensional tradeoff because there’s the tumor, but all these different organs around it like the heart, or the liver, or whatever is nearby, and you have to play a sort of balancing game amongst all those things so that’s where the  math comes in.

So after all of these hobbies, jobs, and working in Oncology, what is bringing you back to pure mathematics?
     Well, every couple of years I’ve come back to just reading a book on math; popular or in-depth books, but not quite textbooks. I’ve always quite enjoyed that, it reminds me of my school days and I like that. So the reason that I wrote this particular book is that I would be talking to friends and describe some little piece of mathematics. For example, that the number of primes is infinite. Just little topics. And I really enjoyed saying that to people, and then getting them to understand what it would mean to prove such a statement, and then getting them to understand the proof. The fact that you can do that all within like 20 minutes, even for people who wouldn’t consider themselves good at math, is just great.

     I never became a math professor because I really like the one-on-one. I have been a math professor [at Williams college] for a year, and it was good, but I like the on-on-one. I’ve had a lot of those one-on-ones with people at bars or parties, and I decided at some point that I could probably cobble these little vignettes into a book.

The book Craft speaks of became a reality titled, 
Some of Infinity: Peaks in the Landscape of Mathematics

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