Monday, June 2, 2014

Review: Why Do Buses Come in Threes? The Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life by Rob Eastaway & Jeremy Wyndham

With a foreword by Tim Rice, this book will change the way you see the world. Why is it better to buy a lottery ticket on a Friday? Why are showers always too hot or too cold? And what's the connection between a rugby player taking a conversion and a tourist trying to get the best photograph of Nelson's Column?
These and many other fascinating questions are answered in this entertaining and highly informative book, which is ideal for anyone wanting to remind themselves – or discover for the first time – that maths is relevant to almost everything we do.
Dating, cooking, travelling by car, gambling and even life-saving techniques have links with intriguing mathematical problems, as you will find explained here. Whether you have a PhD in astrophysics or haven't touched a maths problem since your school days, this book will give you a fresh understanding of the world around you.
Author Information
Rob Eastaway is the author of the best-selling Robson titles 'What is a Googly?', 'Mindbenders and Brainteasers' and 'How Long is a Piece of String?' He is also responsible for running the Coopers and Lybrand world ratings for cricket, one of sport's best-known mathematical models. He lives in London.
Jeremy Wyndham is the managing director of a leading market research company. He lives in London.
Even though it's been awhile since I actually liked math, I found this book to be quite enjoyable.

In Why Do Buses Come in Threes? The Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life, the practical significance of some of the theories you were taught in high school is shown by explaining their relevance to seemingly ordinary occurrences.

As you would expect from a book on mathematics, there are plenty of formulas and computations here. Now, I liked math back in elementary, but once I got into the more advanced classes in high school and college, math became a chore. With some of the more complicated computations and formulas in the book, my mind started shutting down a little bit.

That said, there were plenty of interesting things in the book that more than made up for the parts that I wasn't too keen on. For example, there were math magic tricks, how to divide cake evenly for odd numbers of people, and how it's sometimes better to walk in the rain than to run in it.

I also discovered that some of the things I've learned and used over the years actually had names, such as frequency analysis. There are also plenty of interesting theories here that even ordinary people would be interested in, such as why there are certain times that seem to have longer queues than others.

What's even better about this book is the fact that the language is mostly straightforward but not boring. The words and examples used are easy to understand, even for people who aren't math wizards.

Thanks to NetGalley and Portico for the e-copy.


  1. You will learn a lot.
  2. The tone is straightforward but light so you don't feel like your eyes are going to glaze over.
  3. There are plenty of practical applications for the things you learn. 


  1. Some of the computations may feel a little too complicated. 

Surprisingly, you only require 23 children in a class for there to be more than a 50-50 chance that two of them have the same birthday. 

  1. You like math.
  2. You've always wondered how mathematical concepts applied to everyday life.
  3. You like learning new things. 




Note: This post contains Amazon and Book Depository affiliate links.

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