“Mathematics Made Difficult” by Carl E. Linderholm

I have seen attributed to Halmos (Linderholm’s advisor) the description of this book as an in-joke to the mathematical community, and that’s about right: I don’t think it would be possible to explain why it’s funny to someone who doesn’t know at least a bit of category theory, among other things, and of course some parts are more amusing than others.  Probably any mathematician could find something that tickles them particularly; for me, it was that the section “What are brackets?” ends with an absurdist derivation of the Catalan numbers.  I also thought the exercises were particularly wonderful.  (On the other hand, the long-winded send-ups of word problems felt tedious.)  Overall, the thing it most reminds me of is 1066 and all that.

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