Friday, April 22, 2005

"Atlas of the Medieval World" by Rosamond McKitterick

Oxford University Press 2004.

Beautifully illustrated, the maps themselves are often good, but sometimes I found them to be a bit overly busy and complex. Perhaps medieval history was in reality a bit of a jumbled up mess, the book does tend to give that impression.

If you want to learn how to present complex information well, Edward Tufte's book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 2nd edition is the classic. Here's a great map of Napolean's Russian campaign, discussed in Tufte's book and on his web site:

"Kung Fu Hustle", a film by Stephen Chow

It looks like a lot of fun.

Saunders MacLane, 95, died April 14th

His book "Category Theory for the Working Mathematician" is a masterpiece and a great way to get an introduction to a lot of mathematics very quickly. Category Theory is compelling, in part because it is presented almost entirely in diagrams, giving a visual texture to possibly the most abstract branch of mathematics.

Category Theory has been influential in Computer Science, see "Category Theory for Computing Science" by Barr & Wells, and in mathematical logic: "Introduction to higher order categorical logic" by Lambek and Scott.

New York Times Obituary