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The unimaginable mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel / William Goldbloom Bloch.

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Author/Creator:
Bloch, William Goldbloom.
Language:
English.
Publication date:
2008
Imprint:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2008.
Format:
  • Book
  • xx, 192 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (p. [181]-185) and index.
Contents:
  • PREFACE-- INTRODUCTION-- COMBINATORICS: CONTEMPLATING VARIATIONS OF THE 23 LETTER-- TOPOLOGY AND COSMOLOGY: THE UNIVERSE (WHICH OTHERS CALL THE LIBRARY)-- INFORMATION THEORY: CATALOGING THE COLLECTION-- GEOMETRY AND GRAPH THEORY: AMBIGUITY AND ACCESS-- REAL ANALYSIS: THE BOOK OF SAND-- MORE COMBINATORICS: DISORDERINGS INTO ORDER-- A HOMOMORPHISM: STRUCTURE INTO MEANING-- CRITICAL POINTS-- OPENINGS-- ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS-- APPENDIX ITHE LOGOS OF LOGARITHMS-- APPENDIX IIFLAT-OUT DISORIENTED-- APPENDIX IIIPEELING THE 3-SPHERE-- APPENDIX IVA LABYRINTH, NOT A MAZE-- APPENDIX VAN EXAMPLE OF THE ARS COMBINATORIA-- BIBLIOGRAPHY.
  • (source: Nielsen Book Data)
Publisher's Summary:
"The Library of Babel" is arguably Jorge Luis Borges' best known story-memorialized along with Borges on an Argentine postage stamp. Now, in The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel, William Goldbloom Bloch takes readers on a fascinating tour of the mathematical ideas hidden within one of the classic works of modern literature. Written in the vein of Douglas R. Hofstadter's Pulitzer Prize-winning Godel, Escher, Bach, this original and imaginative book sheds light on one of Borges' most complex, richly layered works. Bloch begins each chapter with a mathematical idea-combinatorics, topology, geometry, information theory-followed by examples and illustrations that put flesh on the theoretical bones. In this way, he provides many fascinating insights into Borges' Library. He explains, for instance, a straightforward way to calculate how many books are in the Library-an easily notated but literally unimaginable number-and also shows that, if each book were the size of a grain of sand, the entire universe could only hold a fraction of the books in the Library. Indeed, if each book were the size of a proton, our universe would still not be big enough to hold anywhere near all the books. Given Borges' well-known affection for mathematics, this exploration of the story through the eyes of a humanistic mathematician makes a unique and important contribution to the body of Borgesian criticism. Bloch not only illuminates one of the great short stories of modern literature but also exposes the reader-including those more inclined to the literary world-to many intriguing and entrancing mathematical ideas.
(source: Nielsen Book Data)
Subjects:
ISBN:
0195334574
9780195334579

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