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Is That a Big Number?

Andrew Elliott



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Oxford University Press
06 August 2018
Impressive statistics are thrown at us every day - the cost of health care; the size of an earthquake; the distance to the nearest star; the number of giraffes in the world.

We know all these numbers are important - some more than others - and it's vaguely unsettling when we don't really have a clear sense of how remarkable or how ordinary they are. How do we work out what these figures actually mean? Are they significant, should we be worried, or excited, or impressed? How big is big, how small is small?

With this entertaining and engaging book, help is at hand. Andrew Elliott gives us the tips and tools to make sense of numbers, to get a sense of proportion, to decipher what matters. It is a celebration of a numerate way of understanding the world. It shows how number skills help us to understand the everyday world close at hand, and how the same skills can be stretched to demystify the bigger numbers that we find in the wider contexts of science, politics, and the universe.

Entertaining, full of practical examples, and memorable concepts, Is That A Big Number? renews our relationship with figures. If numbers are the musical notes with which the symphony of the universe is written, and you're struggling to hear the tune, then this is the book to get you humming again.
By:   Andrew Elliott
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 164mm,  Spine: 25mm
Weight:   762g
ISBN:   9780198821229
ISBN 10:   0198821220
Pages:   352
Publication Date:   06 August 2018
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Andrew Elliott grew up in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, and studied statistics and actuarial science at the University of Cape Town. He emigrated to the United Kingdom in the late 1980s to use his actuarial skills in the world of financial systems. After a spell as a management consultant, Andrew launched a series of start-up companies in financial technology, and he continues to work in this field. Frustrated by how quantitative information is presented in the media and public discussion, in 2016 Andrew started Is That A Big Number?, a project to promote numeracy and the development of intuitive number sense.

Reviews for Is That a Big Number?

Wide-ranging and highly accessible, this book is chock-full of fascinating nuggets, providing a rich source of colourful examples of numbers and how they are used. It shows how numeracy and literacy are two sides of the same coin. * David J. Hand, Senior Research Investigator and Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Imperial College, London * The book illustrates well that knowledge (being numerate) is power. * Adhemar Bultheel, European Mathematical Society * Is That a Big Number is an easy but excellent read for the person who wants to understand large numbers in context of everyday life ... A key tenet of this book is the idea of comparison: every example is stacked against a well-known fact. Every chapter ends with a list of (approximate) relations to help the reader grasp magnitudes of heights, distances, weights, and riches. * Megan Sawyer, Mathematical Association of America *

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