review: manga guide to linear algebra

review: manga guide to linear algebra

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For Neo to not get stuck in The Matrix, he first had to learn kung fu. But for Misa to not get stuck in a matrix while studying linear algebra, her tutor has to learn karate. From her big brother, a hulking man-among-men. That’s the trade, anyway; Reiji the math geek will teach Misa linear algebra in exchange for her big (big) brother teaching Reiji how to use karate. But big bro doesn’t seem too happy about the situation — especially since Misa seems to find her tutor more and more wonderful each day. And handsome. And kind. Score one for the math geeks.

The Manga Guide to Linear Algebra , written by Shin Takahashi, tells their story, while weaving their anecdotes and examples into the abstract fundamentals of linear algebra. “Fun” isn’t usually a word one associates with high-end math, but the book is really fun, and makes linear algebra easy to understand, as it weaves examples of miniature golfing, “claw” gift machines, and more, into the study of vectors, matrices, linear transformations, and eigenvalues and eigenvectors. The manga helps the reader to learn, just as Misa does, as her sympathetic tutor leads us all through the abstract mysteries of linear algebra.

Anyone studying the subject could benefit from the book, and just a few hours going through the fun story — including Reiji’s clear explanations of the fundamentals, and the handful of straightforward Q&As at the end of each chapter — would surely learn enough to get a “big picture” understanding of the problems one faces, and how to figure them out. And it would make for an excellent review for anyone returning to their studies, as a quick refresher course. The Manga Guide to Linear Algebra is highly recommended for any math student… I just wish they’d had this book when I was in school!

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