Please take a moment to review Hachette Book Group’s updated Privacy Policy: read the updated policy here.

The Art of Logic in an Illogical World

The Art of Logic in an Illogical World

How both logical and emotional reasoning can help us live better in our post-truth world

In a world where fake news stories change election outcomes, has rationality become futile? In The Art of Logic in an Illogical World, Eugenia Cheng throws a lifeline to readers drowning in the illogic of contemporary life. Cheng is a mathematician, so she knows how to make an airtight argument. But even for her, logic sometimes falls prey to emotion, which is why she still fears flying and eats more cookies than she should. If a mathematician can’t be logical, what are we to do? In this book, Cheng reveals the inner workings and limitations of logic, and explains why alogic–for example, emotion–is vital to how we think and communicate. Cheng shows us how to use logic and alogic together to navigate a world awash in bigotry, mansplaining, and manipulative memes. Insightful, useful, and funny, this essential book is for anyone who wants to think more clearly.

Read More

Genre: Nonfiction / Mathematics / Logic

On Sale: September 11th 2018

Price: $16.99 / $21.99 (CDN)

Page Count: 288

ISBN-13: 9781541672505

What's Inside

Read More Read Less

Meet The Author: Eugenia Cheng

Eugenia Cheng is the scientist in residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an Honorary Fellow at the University of Sheffield. The author of How to Bake Piand Beyond Infinity, she lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Discover More


"Ms. Cheng's chatty tone keeps things fresh. She has a knack for folksy analogies, and at different points in the book she illuminates different properties of infinity by discussing Legos, the iPod Shuffle, snorkeling, Battenberg cakes and Winnie-the-Pooh... she does a great service by showing us non-mathematician schlubs how real mathematical creativity works."Wall Street Journal
"Our minds cannot truly grasp the concept of infinity, but Eugenia Chang takes us on a wild journey to help us in our search for it. It's a small, unassuming symbol-8-but it holds a giant idea. Cheng helps us understand the basics of infinity and then takes us on a ride to see its most lofty applications. From the practical to the entirely theoretical, this is a book to watch for."Paste Magazine
"Unique to this text is the friendly and conversational style with which the author communicates her passion for mathematics. Cheng succeeds in offering a taste of creativity in mathematics research, reminding the reader that mathematics is fun because 'you can have anything that you can think of. The only caveat is that you have to take all the logical consequences of your new toy as well'. Her passion for research is unassuming and adds a humanistic sensitivity to the book's central quest."—Mathematics Teacher
"[A] superb study of the mathematics of infinity... Acknowledging the difficulties the proofs present, Cheng wisely provides readers with reasonably accessible equations, useful graphics, and entertaining and straightforward explanations... [Her] enthusiasm for mathematics is infectious and readers curious about the mathematics of infinity will find her to be a worthy guide."—Publishers Weekly
"Beyond Infinity is witty, charming, and crystal clear. . Eugenia Cheng's enthusiasm and carefully chosen metaphors and analogies carry us effortlessly through the mathematical landscape of the infinite. A brilliant book."Ian Stewart, author of Calculating the Cosmos
"The idea of infinity is one of the most perplexing things in mathematics, and the most fun. Eugenia Cheng's Beyond Infinity is a spirited and friendly guide--appealingly down to earth about math that's extremely far out."
Jordan Ellenberg, author of How Not to Be Wrong and professor of mathematics at University of Wisconsin-Madison
"Cheng never quite overeggs her metaphor of the mathematician as chef...and her tone is clear, clever and friendly. Even at her most whimsical she is rigorous and insightful. Potentially confusing ideas are expressed with a matter-of-fact simplicity.... How to Bake Pi is a welcome addition to the popular-math shelf, unusual not only because of its quirky premise but also because Cheng is a woman, a lucid and nimble expositor, and unashamedly proud of her domestic obsessions.... It would be wonderful if this book attracted a new audience to the field. And there's no better ambassador (or dinner-party host, I'd wager) than Eugenia Cheng."Alex Bellos, New York Times Book Review
"Invoking plenty of examples from cooking and baking, as well as other everyday-life situations such as calculating a taxi fare, searching for love through online dating services and training for a marathon, [Cheng] explains abstract mathematical ideas-including topology and logic-in understandable ways.... Her lively, accessible book demonstrates how important and intriguing such a pursuit can be."Scientific American
"[A] funny and engaging new book."Simon Worrall, National Geographic News
"[Cheng's] book, a very gentle introduction to the main ideas of mathematics in general and category theory in particular, exudes enthusiasm for mathematics, teaching, and creative recipes. Category theory is dangerously abstract, but Cheng's writing is down-to-earth and friendly. She's the kind of person you'd want to talk to at a party, whether about math, food, music, or just the weather.... Cheng's cheerful, accessible writing and colorful examples make How to Bake Pi an entertaining introduction to the fundamentals of abstract mathematical thinking."—Evelyn Lamb, Scientific American's "Roots of Unity" blog
"[A] slyly illuminating dispatch on the deep meaning of mathematics.... Cheng manages to do for us what the mathematician Keith Devlin has said mathematicians do for themselves: she compels us to see numbers and symbols as vivid characters in an ongoing drama, a narrative in which we are alternately observers and participants."Natalie Angier, The American Scholar
"[Cheng] masterfully describes what mathematics is. This includes careful and motivated descriptions of the ideas and methods of abstractions, generalization, logic, and axiomatization.... This book is entertaining, insightful, deep and accessible."—Mathematical Reviews
"Why go to all the trouble to write a book to help people understand mathematics? Because, as Cheng observes, 'understanding is power, and if you help someone understand something, you're giving them power.' Read How to Bake Pi and you will, indeed, go away feeling empowered."Marc Merlin, Medium
"[O]ften entertaining...frequently illuminating.... [How to Bake Pi] offers enough nourishment for the brain to chew on for a long time."Columbus Dispatch
"This is the best book imaginable to introduce someone who doesn't think they are interested in mathematics at all to some of the deep ideas of category theory, especially if they like to bake."MAA Reviews
"In her new book, How to Bake Pi, mathematician/baker Eugenia Cheng offers a novel, mathematical approach to cooking.... How to Bake Pi is more than a mathematically-minded cookbook. It is just as much a book about mathematical theory and how we learn it. The premise at the heart of the book is that the problem that stops a cookbook from teaching us how to cook is the same problem that makes math classes so bad at actually teaching us to do math."Ria Misra, io9
"Through an enthusiasm for cooking and zest for life, the author, a math professor, provides a new way to think about a field we thought we knew."Chemical Engineering Progress
"Combined with infectious enthusiasm for cooking and a zest for life, Cheng's perspective on math becomes this singular book: a funny, lively, and clear journey no popular book on math has explored before. How to Bake Pi...will dazzle, amuse, and enlighten."—Gambit Weekly
"Beginning each chapter with a recipe, Cheng converts the making of lasagna, pudding, cookies, and other comestibles into analogies illuminating the mathematical enterprise. Though these culinary analogies teach readers about particular mathematical principles and processes, they ultimately point toward the fundamental character of mathematics as a system of logic, a system presenting daunting difficulties yet offering rare power to make life easier. Despite her zeal for mathematical logic, Cheng recognizes that such logic begins in faith - irrational faith - and ultimately requires poetry and art to complement its findings. A singular humanization of the mathematical project."—Booklist, starred review
"Cheng is exceptional at translating the abstract concepts of mathematics into ordinary language, a strength aided by a writing style that showcases the workings of her curious, sometimes whimsical mind. This combination allows her to demystify how mathematicians think and work, and makes her love for mathematics contagious."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"An original book using recipes to explain sophisticated math concepts to students and even the math-phobic.... [Cheng] is a gifted teacher... A sharp, witty book to press on students and even the teachers of math teachers."—Kirkus Reviews
"[A] well-written, easy-to-read book."—Library Journal
"Quirky recipes, personal anecdotes and a large dollop of equations are the key ingredients in this alternative guide to maths and the scientific process. You should find it as easy as cooking a pie."
The Observer, Tech Monthly (UK)
"[D]eliciously lively.... It is Cheng's delightful descriptions of her gastronomic adventures that bring the mathematics to life.... If [the book] doesn't succeed in exciting you about mathematics, it will certainly change the way you approach baking."—Times Higher Education (UK)
"Many consider maths a difficult and dry subject. But the baking-based analogies and fun tangents used to demonstrate the various ideas in the book are entertaining and diminish the mental gymnastics that abstract maths can require."—BBC Focus (UK)
"Eugenia Cheng offers an entertaining introduction to the beauty of mathematics by drawing on insights from the kitchen. She explains why baking a flourless cake is like geometry and offers puzzles to whet the appetites of maths fans."—Times Educational Supplement (UK)
"A curious cookbook for the mathematical omnivore."—The Irish Times (Ireland)
"[T]his book was fun and covered some cool maths, using some nice analogies, and would serve as a good intro for someone getting into category theory."

The Aperiodical (UK)
"I never thought I would discover a book about mathematics that's actually cozy-armchair and scone cozy. Eugenia Cheng has created some delicious associations in my mind that are there to stay: succulent axioms, logical cake, Möbius bagels, and pentagon custard. Off to my oven!"
Leila Schneps, Professor of Mathematics at the Institut de Mathématiques de Jussieu of Pierre and Marie Curie University, and author of Math on Trial
"Eugenia Cheng's charming new book embeds math in a casing of wry, homespun metaphors: math is like vegan brownies, math is like a subway map, math is like a messy desk. Cheng is at home with math the way you're at home with brownies, maps, and desks, and by the end of How to Bake Pi, you might be, too."
Jordan Ellenberg, Professor of Mathematics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and author of How Not to Be Wrong
"What a charming and original book! The central analogy-math is like cooking-turns out to be surprisingly apt and often funny. Light and tasty, yet so, so good for you, How to Bake Pi is a real treat."
Steven Strogatz, Professor of Mathematics, Cornell University and author of The Joy of x
"With this delightfully surprising book, Eugenia Cheng reveals the hidden beauty of mathematics with passion and simplicity. After reading How to Bake Pi, you won't look at math (nor porridge!) in the same way ever again."
Roberto Trotta, Astrophysicist, Imperial College London and author of The Edge of the Sky
"One of the most frustrating parts about teaching or conveying mathematics concepts is that they don't just seem abstract, they are abstract. Dr. Cheng does an amazing job of making these abstract concepts tangible, guiding the reader to stretch our brains just a little past the comfortable zone to help us comprehend complex mathematical concepts. This book puts the fun back in math, the fun that I always saw in it, the fun that is nearly sucked from it in K-12 education.... I whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone with a casual interest in, or deep love of, logic, or mathematics, or baking."
Melissa A. Wilson Sayres, Assistant Professor in the School of Life Sciences and the Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University and writer of the blog
"Math is a lot like cooking. We start with the ingredients we have at hand, try to cook up something tasty, and are sometimes surprised by the results. Does this seem odd? Maybe in school all you got was stale leftovers! Try something better: Eugenia Cheng is not only an excellent mathematician and pastry chef, but a great writer, too."
John Baez, Professor of Mathematics at the University of California, Riverside
"From clotted cream to category theory, neither cookery nor math are what you thought they were. But deep down they're remarkably similar. A brilliant gourmet feast of what math is really about."
Ian Stewart, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick, and author of Visions of Infinity and Professor Stewart's Incredible Numbers