Preface

There's no maths involved - you solve the puzzle with reasoning and logic

What this book is about

Maths! There, I've said it. Stop reading now. You hate maths. Everybody hates maths - well everybody normal hates maths. Even if you don't hate it you never understood or have forgotten most of it.

Maybe I am exaggerating a little, but it does sometimes seem as though mathematics is the art that dare not speak its name. Open almost any book at random in the popular science section of a bookshop and your chances of seeing an equation are only slightly better than your chances of winning the lottery. Intelligent people who would be ashamed to admit not knowing much about history or literature may actually be proud of being ignoramuses when it comes to mathematics - "I'm more of a people person" or whatever.

Yet, now and again, a craze sweeps the world, or at any rate a whole country, and very large numbers of people become fascinated by a puzzle, which, even if they don't realise it, is sharpening the wits of their inner mathematician. In the 1980's it was the Rubik Cube, In 2005 it was Sudoku. A century or so earlier it was the 14-15 puzzle (you can try it right now).

I'm different from most people. I do like mathematics. I like it a lot, maybe not quite so much as beer, but it's a close run thing. What I don't like is not having anyone to talk to about it. I'm not a mathematician myself, and I don't even know any of them (unless they're keeping it a secret). I suspect that even if I did meet one, he or she wouldn't want to talk to me about it since I'm only an amateur. I'm hoping this book will convert some of you right-thinking, god-fearing, math-hating, ordinary humans into weirdos like myself, who actually like looking at books that might as well be in Latin or Greek, that are full of pages filled with indecipherable symbols, and diagrams that might as well be plans of North Korea's nuclear arsenal for all anyone but the person who wrote it can tell.†

†Actually I'd much rather mathematics was more often presented less inpenetrably, with some indication of why somebody might find it worth while to spend time mastering a part of it.

This book is also about patterns. In fact I hope it will mainly be about patterns. The mathematics would be unavoidable, even if I wanted to avoid it, which I don't. However, I hope I can keep you entertained along the way even if you don't share my taste for maths as yet. Let me tell you why I am writing this.