The beauty of mathematics is generally linked to the idea of simplicity, perfection and harmony; but mathematics can also be unsettling, shocking or even monstrous. The aim of this book is to show that many branches of mathematics do indeed reach into the dark side.
The book is presented as a sort of bestiary, much like its mediaeval namesakes; it takes readers on a journey to discover incredible numerical “creatures”, illustrating their quirks, deformities and unlikely features. Divided into fourteen chapters (each one dedicated to a kind of mathematical creature), the book lays out the never-ending challenges faced by mathematicians over the centuries in their attempt to explain and tame numbers, in a no-holds-barred war that sometimes morphs into a tormented love story or a long tale of magicians and spells made of formulas and theorems.
The topics have been selectedbased on their degree of “monstrosity” and form a puzzle bound to appeal to novice and experienced readers alike. The author moves from negative numbers to infinity; presents geometries that seem to defy common sense, from Escher's drawings to fractals; and explores disconcerting logical paradoxes. They are all surprising and unexpected mathematical monsters – and this is the real secret to their shocking beauty.