Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel

ISBN-10: 0195334574
ISBN-13: 9780195334579
Edition: 2008
List price: $20.95 Buy it from $8.92
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Description: "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  More...

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Book details

List price: $20.95
Copyright year: 2008
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 8/25/2008
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 160
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.792
Language: English

"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.

Acknowledgments
Preface
Introduction
The Library of Babel
Combinatorics: Contemplating Variations of the 23 Letters
Information Theory: Cataloging the Collection
Real Analysis: The Book of Sand
Topology and Cosmology: The Universe (Which Others Call the Library)
Geometry and Graph Theory: Ambiguity and Access
More Combinatorics: Disorderings into Order
A Homomorphism: Structure into Meaning
Critical Points
Openings
Dissecting the 3-Sphere
Notations
Notes
Glossary
Annotated Suggested Readings
Bibliography
Index

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