Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Numbers Behind NUMB3RS

I just finished reading The Numbers Behind NUMB3RS: Solving Crime with Mathematics by Keith Devlin and Gary Lorden (New York:  Plume Books [Penguin], 2007).  Devlin is NPR's "Math Guy" and Lorden was the math consultant on the TV series NUMB3RS, to which this book is related.

The book discusses some of the mathematical tools and theories that we see math genius and professor Charlie Eppes use on the series.  I confess that I did not nearly understand all of the book, as I am pretty much a mathophobe.  However, I enjoyed NUMB3RS, as did my mathematically-inclined husband, because it was a well-written and well-acted series with interesting stories. The Detective/Police genre is my favorite (as if one could not tell from references in entries on this blog).

Possibly the authors could have explained some of their points in a way that laypersons such as myself could better understand, but I don't regard this as a serious complaint.  I was intrigued by a number (not to be punny) of the concepts dealt with in the book, and how these are being applied in crime-fighting today.  Nice to know that such fine minds as those described in the book are applying themselves to solving problems in crime detection and the pursuit of perpetrators.

An appendix gives a "mathematical synopsis" of plots of the episodes of the first three seasons (the book was written while the series was running).  I have all six seasons on DVD, a Christmas gift from my husband.

People who enjoy reading the story behind the story, those interested in reading about the sciences in general, those interested in math, and people as enchanted as I was by the TV series will enjoy this book.  Even if you, like me, do not completely understand all of the explanations.

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