Happy Friday, everyone!
I’m here!! A few hours later than usual, sure, but better late than never, right?
(Of course, I would love to tell you there was a grand reason for my tardiness, but what it really boils down to is that I was too freaking lazy to get started on this post and decided to use any and all free time I had this week to continue my Star Trek: Voyager re-binge. In my defense, though, I needed to recover from all the tests I had to grade this week and the truly horrifying mistakes I saw in some of them! And all of the parents who wanted to meet with me to discuss their children’s horrifying mistakes!)
To make up for my lateness, though, you’re getting a tag today – a tag created by me!!! I’ve wanted to come up with my own tag ever since I started this blog, but then I always felt oddly guilty about focusing on that when there were already about fifty other tags in my drafts folder, itching to finally be paid the attention they deserved. But, well, if my tardiness doesn’t clue you in – we’re way past the guilt stage now, anyway… 😂
Which means I decided to just go for it and create a tag about two things I absolutely love! Two things that tons of people inexplicably place in opposition to one another: Literature and mathematics! Today’s tag will be all about functions – i.e. relations from a set X to a set Y that assign exactly one element of Y to each element of X – and, of course, plenty of books. So have fun reading!
- Thank the person who nominated you!
- Ping-back to the original creator, Naemi @ A Book Owl’s Corner, so that she can sneakily read your answers and be thrilled at how much attention math is getting within the bookish community!
- Answer all the prompts while appreciating the mathematical beauty contained in them! (You’re more than welcome to use the original graphics so that all the canva and GeoGebra work the creator put into them will be worth it…)
- Tag some people! Five would be best, since five is obviously the coolest natural number out there, but any other quantity works, too.
And with that out of the way, let’s get into the questions!
The constant zero function x ↦ 0 maps every number to zero. And although finding its intersections with other functions is one of mathematicians’ greatest obsessions, one can’t deny that the zero function itself just isn’t all that exciting…
For this prompt, pick a book so monotonously boring you almost fell asleep reading it!
I had no difficulties at all finding a candidate for this question – I’m going with Paul Harding’s Tinkers! 😅 Even though it has beautifully lyrical writing, this novel about a dying man’s life story was an absolute slog to get through and definitely one of my most traumatizing reading experiences ever. “Monotonous boringness” describes Tinkers to a T!
Also known as the identity map, the function x ↦ x is central to mathematics. Not only is it the most basic linear function in existence, but it also gives certain collections of functions a group structure by functioning as the group’s neutral element: When you compose a function with the identity map, you obtain the same function as before.
For this prompt, choose a book with a generic plot that you can’t help but love!
Like the identity map, Christina Lauren’s The Unhoneymooners is fairly predictable. Following a standard hate-to-love romance plotline, it features pretty much every cliché possible – a vacation with the enemy, being forced to share a room with only one bed, accidentally catching glimpses of the other’s body… You don’t even have to start reading to be able to guess how the story develops!
Still, the book is incredibly addictive 🤗 You’re drawn into these fictional characters’ lives and can’t help but get invested, so I would highly recommend this one to anyone looking for steamy relaxation!
The graphs of degree-two polynomial functions such as x ↦ x2 are called parabolas. When the corresponding polynomial’s leading coefficient is positive, as is the case here, the parabola is symmetrical to a vertical line going through its lowest point, the vertex.
For this prompt, choose a book or series with an epic beginning and ending, but a lackluster middle!
A Tale of Two Cities it is! Dickens’ atmospheric writing immediately drew me into this story, but as it progressed, I just grew more and more bored – until I was about 100 pages from the end and suddenly fell in love! That’s when A Tale of Two Cities became truly powerful and moving, when it displayed controversy and nuance that made me understand why it is known as one of the greatest classics of all time. The middle though? It wasn’t my thing.
The inverse of x ↦ x2 on the non-negative reals, the function x ↦ √x assigns the square root of a given number to that number – provided the number in question is greater than or equal to zero.
For this prompt, explore your literary roots and pick a book that got you into reading!
I’m afraid I can’t tell you too much about my own reading roots because I don’t think there was a specific book that sparked it all 🤔 As far as I can recall, I’ve always loved reading!
However, one book I have particularly fond memories of is Eric Carle’s A House for Hermit Crab, which is about a hermit crab finding a new shell to live in and decorating it. My parents probably read the German translation to me about 50 million times before I even had my first birthday because, let me tell you, I was obsessed with this!!
(Yeah, I guess my fondness for watching home revamping and cleaning videos on YouTube probably isn’t a coincidence…)
Like parabolas, hyperbolas are conic sections – graphs obtained by intersecting the surface of a cone with a plane. The standard hyperbola is given by the map x ↦ 1/x, the most basic rational function out there.
For this prompt, choose a book with a scenario so unrealistic you can’t help thinking it’s full of hyperbole and over the top!
Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary – or any Andy Weir book for that matter – definitely qualifies for this one! The amount of luck these characters have is already insane enough without throwing their impeccable memory skills into the mix, and I still have trouble believing that a middle-school teacher would be first in line for a science project essential to Earth’s survival…
But do I care that Project Hail Mary is hyperbolically unrealistic? Not in the least 😁 I absolutely adore every single thing about it and would willingly endure even more unrealisticness if it meant I could have more Ryland and Rocky!
Inarguably one of the most famous functions out there, the sine function x ↦ sin(x), is particularly well known for its characteristically wavy graph.
For this prompt, pick a book that was an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs!
If you’ve been around for a while, you’re probably getting sick of me recommending The Penderwicks, but I can’t help it! Not when the fictional family we follow in this series is simply utter perfection and its fourth book holds the honor of having made me tear up multiple times, both with laughter and with sadness. You’re going to experience the full spectrum of emotions reading this one, so I can only highly recommend you check it out!
Although often treated as an afterthought to sine, the cosine function x ↦ cos(x) is meritable in its own right. For example, π, one of the most beautiful constants in the universe, is defined in higher mathematics as twice the first positive zero of the cosine function:
Using this power series, one can show that π is precisely the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. If that isn’t cool, I don’t know what is!
For this prompt, pick a book featuring pie!
It’s next to impossible to forget that William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus features pie. The Titus Andronicus’ pie scene is one of the most gruesome things I’ve ever encountered in fiction and has been permanently scarred into my brain! To avoid spoilers, I’m not going to go into details, but suffice it to say that my brain is still permanently scarred! In general, I’d say Titus Andronicus isn’t necessarily for the faint-hearted… The play takes the meaning of “bloodbath” to a whole other level!
The quotient of sine and cosine, the tangent function x ↦ tan(x) completes our main trigonometric trio.
For this prompt, pick a book loves to go on tangents so much that it needs footnotes to do them justice!
If I’m being completely honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of footnotes 🙈 Since you need to lower your gaze to the bottom of the page – or, even worse, flip to the back of the book – to read them, they interrupt the flow of a story like nobody’s business!
That being said, though, I can (sometimes) appreciate authors’ logic behind including them. And in Hanya Yanagihara’s The People in the Trees, I’d even argue that the footnotes are way more interesting than the main storyline, which is about a thoroughly unlikeable scientist looking for turtles on an island somewhere in the Southern Pacific.
As a function that is its own derivative, the natural exponential function x ↦ ex is a symbol of absolute mathematical perfection.
For this prompt, pick your favorite book of all time!
To be fair, most of you guys probably already knew that my favorite book is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Either that or you’re new here. Or you’ve been living under a rock.
Still, I obviously couldn’t do a tag about functions without including the natural exponential function, and I couldn’t possibly pair that with anything but perfection! I mean, how can you not love Order of the Phoenix? It’s so political! It has angsty, misunderstood Harry and evilly twisted Umbridge! And D.A. meetings! And Dobby taking all of Hermione’s elf hats! And many of Professor McGonagall’s finest moments! Like I said, it’s perfection! 🥰
The inverse of the natural exponential function, the natural logarithm function x ↦ ln(x), sometimes also written as x ↦ log(x), is extremely relevant to anyone studying in a scientific field. We’d have run out of paper long ago without the introduction of logarithmic scales!
For this prompt, choose a book that features logs or journal entries!
Since I’m currently in the middle of reading Dracula as a pitiful attempt to get into the seasonal spirit, I am obviously exploiting that for this question! 🧛
Judging by how far along I am now and by what I dimly remember from years of literature classes, Dracula is told entirely in letters and journal entries – and so far, they’ve certainly caught my attention! I love how dark and creepily mysterious Bram Stoker’s story is and how the different characters’ writings weave together to form a compelling whole. If the second half of Dracula is anything like the first, I definitely recommend picking this one up!
An example of a fractal curve, the Weierstrass function x ↦ Wα(x) is continuous everywhere but differentiable nowhere. By discovering it, German mathematician Karl Weierstraß was able to disprove the previously popular claim that such functions did not exist, earning the function the moniker “monster”.
For this prompt, choose a book you find truly intimidating!
I’m going with James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake for this one. Not only did I not understand the excerpts we covered in my university’s literature lectures, but I also have yet to find a single person who said they genuinely liked this. Almost everyone I know who attempted to read it gave up before they even reached the halfway point, and those who soldiered on only did so out of a sense of moral obligation.
So yeah, I’m not even sure whether I want to read this 😅 Even though its notoriousness does make the book kind of intriguing…
You’re not getting a graph for this one because looking at the Riemann zeta function s ↦ ζ(s) only really gets interesting over the complex numbers… And I’m afraid I haven’t figured out how to plot four dimensionally yet!
However, to say that the Riemann zeta function is interesting is almost an understatement. The Riemann Hypothesis, which claims that ζ has zeros only at the negative even integers and complex numbers with real part 1/2, is one of the biggest open conjectures in pure mathematics. Proving it would earn you both eternal glory and a million dollars’ worth of prize money and be just about the most satisfying thing ever!
(And trust me, I’ve tried. I took an entire course on the zeta function at university in hopes of becoming knowledgeable enough to prove the Riemann Hypothesis, but, if anything, I felt way dumber afterwards than I did before…)
For this final prompt, pick an intriguing book you hope to tackle in the future and are eyeing as your next possible read!
I’m going with An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon for this one! All I know about it is that it’s set in space, that it’s supposedly very lyrical, that it has an autistic protagonist, and that it features alternate history elements. But all of that sounds so up my alley that I’m desperate to give it a try even without knowing any further details!
(If I ever manage to finish my current reads with the enormous workload I still have to get through, that is 😅)
Now that we’ve reached the end of my questions, I suppose it’s time to tag some people and help this thing take off! Alas, alas, the responsibilities that come with being a tag creator…
So yeah, I’m going to force this upon those of you whom I know to be fellow math enthusiasts and those of you who I think might do this out of solidarity in spite of your inexplicable lack of math appreciation! 😜 I nominate:
- Abby @ Beyond the Read
- Amaya @ Mauve Mumblings
- Anoushka @ Dipped in Ink
- Emily @ Frappes and Fiction
- Jan @ Inkspun Tales
- Janette @ Wicked Witch’s Blog
- Lila @ Hardcover Haven
- Line @ First Line Reader
- Malka @ Paper Procrastinators
- Maria @ The Character Study
- Meena @ Meena Green
- Nehal @ Quirky Pages
- Pauline @ Pow’s Book Nook
- Riddhi @ Whispering Stories
- Sophie and Beth @ Me & Ink
- Suhani @ Random Reader’s Rambles
As always, I (probably 😛) won’t be offended if you don’t get around to it, but it would mean the world to me if you did! Have fun with the questions!
Which brings us to the end of today’s post! Let me know down below what you thought of the tag, how you would have answered some of my questions, and which function you think is the coolest! Did I miss any major map that you would’ve liked to see? I would love to know!