Read Why Do Buses Come in Threes?: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life by Robert Eastaway Jeremy Wyndham Online


Why is it better to buy a lottery ticket on a Thursday? Why are showers always too hot or too cold? These and many other questions are answered in this entertaining and highly informative book. It is for anyone wanting to discover that maths is relevant to almost everything....

Title : Why Do Buses Come in Threes?: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781861052476
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 164 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Why Do Buses Come in Threes?: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life Reviews

  • Blair
    2018-11-18 07:18

    Those of us on the math side of the great cultural divide tend to be less enthusiastic about the power of intuition. One of the primary aims of this fun little book is to show how intuition often misleads us in questions that should be dealt with mathematically. A simple example is the probability that two people in a group of 23 will have the same birthday. It is not 23/365, the chances are actually 50%.Try this: You are brought a glass half full of whiskey and another full of water. You pour some water into the whiskey, then pour the whiskey glass back into water glass until it is half full again. Is there now more water in the whiskey glass than whiskey in the water glass? Well, obviously you are putting diluted whiskey back into the water glass, so there must be less of it. But follow his example carefully, and the amount is always the same. It does not even matter whether the liquids are well mixed or not. This simple question is still driving me nuts.There are some fun geometry problems, but I wish he would proved proofs rather than simply reveal the answer. I liked the question about where is the best place to view a statue on a high pedestal, which by coincidence I had come across a few days before. I tried to derive his result (based on the tangent-secant theorem) and found that his formula was wrong, although the way the question was posed it made little difference to the result. Maybe that is why providing the proof is a good idea.Trains have interesting geometry. He asks which part of a moving train is stationary and which part is travelling backwards. The answer is parts of the wheel, but question should spell out that the motion is relative to the train, and only horizontal motion is being considered. This was a great question that deserved a lot more explanation.Most of the problems in the book are about every-day situations rather than mathematical abstractions, which makes it more interesting. I think the book is worthwhile, but sometimes I was frustrated with the level of explanation.

  • Athan Tolis
    2018-11-20 10:06

    A good friend's son, age 10, has been assigned this book (alongside another title by the same author) in school, presumably in addition to the normal math he gets given to study. My friend is very smart, she studied at Cambridge, but her math is no longer what it was twenty years ago, so on the strength of the fact that I still (very occasionally) find myself pushing symbols for a living I was drafted in to have a look. I ordered the books and reported back that I was about to start reading."What do you think" she enquired.I had to be honest: "No idea why they're assigning books for dumb adults to smart kids" was my first reaction, and I told her as much, but I had not read the book yet and I promised to revert once I had.I'm now done reading it. I found it roughly speaking to be the equivalent of playing backgammon against my i-Phone. So it entertained me, basically, but I am no richer for having read it. I've learnt nothing, I obtained no new insights on stuff I already knew and I'm kind of lamenting the time I spent reading it, but since I read it in the crowded tube (4 round trips between Earls' Court and Liverpool St) it was time that could not have been dedicated to serious reading anyway. Bottom line, if you already know math this is a bad "popular mathematics" book because there's nothing in here that will leave you stumped and I found zero fresh perspective or twists on interesting problems.Needless to say, the book was not assigned to me, it was assigned to my friend's son. It's in my view inadequate from his angle as well, because the author has an annoying habit of describing a problem and then pulling the answer out of a hat. Only about half the problems are worked out, perhaps fewer, the rest don't even get worked out in an appendix. Now, I don't expect the 7 bridges of Koenigsberg to be solved in the appendix, but there's a large number of instances here where I've felt like whipping out a red pen and scribbling "show your work" all over the place. A self-study guide this ain't. Whoever assigned this book to 10-year-olds had better also hand out to them a good thirty extra pages with detailed solutions. Meantime, I fear I'll have to, or else the paedagogical value of the book shrinks significantly."But the book was aimed at neither yourself nor your friend's precocious son" I hear you say. It's a popular mathematics book and should be rated as such.Very well, then, here's my summary of where it ranks in that respect. If I had to give Timothy Gowers' "Very Short Introduction to Mathematics" or Conway's "Book of Numbers" a 5/5, then "Why do Buses come in Threes" deserves a 3/5. It explains and inspires far less than either, but it's not too bad.Finally, if I had to rate the book for how it makes innumerate people feel about themselves, on the strength of the rave reviews listed here it's got to be very good; everyone seems to be giving it five stars....

  • Hilary
    2018-10-24 08:13

    Maths isn't one of my strong points, but I recognize its interesting qualities. This little book promises something for everyone, no matter what their level of understanding, and provides it with an assortment of interesting facts, stories, historical info and general trivia by using familiar topics like birthday coincidences, planning a delivery route, traffic jams, rugby and the football pools.Whether it's showing how maths can predict and explain the number of petals, buds or leaves on a flower, useful mnemonics for remembering pi, explaining why there are 7 sides on a 50p piece or how to make your own secret code, there's maths behind all of it. (And yes, it also explains why buses bunch together.)If you're more into data than maths, it illustrates varying degrees of probability, the usefulness of surveys (and their weaknesses), how to accurately calculate multiple percentages and averages and snooker shots, how to increase your chances of not sharing the lottery jackpot and how to make your dinner more efficiently, all showing the relevance of maths in real life.So if you're one of those people who whined at a maths teacher, "But when I am ever going to use this?", read this! It's even got some mind tricks and magic tricks, if you want to impress your friends. (Maths geeks: there's plenty of theory there too, and a useful bibliography if you want to know more.)Disclaimer: I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Ami Iida
    2018-11-12 13:05

    Case applying mathematics to familiar everyday life

  • Røbert
    2018-11-12 10:23

    Rather light book, kind of the maths equivalent of cracker jokes. Fails to acknowledge sources. The best part of the book is the Further Reading section, I'd recommend skipping straight to those.

  • Elizabeth Grieve
    2018-10-31 06:09

    A charming and fascinating book for all ages, explaining how mathematics is in everyday life whether we realise it or not. Accompanied with little hand-drawn charts, tables and drawings, it explains such things as yes, the title question, why buses always seem to come in threes. There's plenty more besides, such as mathematics of gambling, statistics, and why it's so hard to find a four-leafed clover.A preview copy was provided by the publisher.

  • Edward Pan
    2018-11-04 06:13

    maths book. nice!

  • Sahar Sabati
    2018-11-05 13:17

    If someone in your family or in your close circle of friends has a young child, you are no doubt intimately aware of how young ones see the world as a fascinating place filled with wondrous secrets that are within their grasp if they explore long and hard enough. We all used to be like that. But as we grow older and the various responsibilities of life settle in, we tend to lose this perspective. Many of my friends strive to maintain this it, and make good use of the tools they have available to them to do so.Rob Eastaway and Jeremy Wyndham’s book, Why Do Buses come in Threes? The Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life, will contribute to maintaining such an attitude, as it is a well-written, engaging reminder of how amazing the simplest things in life can be. Even being stuck in traffic can become a fascinating exercise in observation.In his forward, Tim Rice reminds readers that “we did not invent mathematics, we discovered it.” Just like in their other book, How Long Is a Piece of String? More Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life, Eastaway and Wyndham not only show us some of the things humanity has discovered, but “bring maths back into real, everyday life”. They do so by starting each chapter with familiar questions, such as: Why can’t I find a four-leafed clover? Which way should I go? Why do clever people get things wrong? How do you keep a secret? What is the best way to cut a cake? Why am I always in traffic jams?Chapter subheadings give the reader a hint of what the answer to the question might be. Some of my favorite subheadings include: sometimes experience and intelligence can be a disadvantage; coincidences aren’t as surprising as you would think; code-making and breaking isn’t just for spies; why four o’clock can be the time for some mathematical headaches; motorways, escalators, and supermarkets all have one thing in common: queues. (I’ll let you figure out which correspond which of the previously mentioned questions.) This format, used throughout the book, makes it not only highly entertaining, but guides the way you read the chapter, ensuring that you easily can relate even the more complex maths to everyday life.There are many interesting tidbits about our world that pepper almost every page of this book. The explanations are rooted in science, and presented in a way that is easy to grasp yet not over-simplistically patronizing. Most of the information in the book can be easily absorbed; the heavier parts only require a few extra readings. Both the easy and the difficult material will make you thirsty for more.If you have forgotten how amazing the little things in life can be, will definitely help you remember. As the authors state in the book’s introduction, “mathematics is fascinating, beautiful, sometimes even magical.” You will be staring in wonder at many nondescript things around you after you start reading this book. You can either make sure to always have a scapegoat child around while you are reading this book, or you can share its wonder with your friends.

  • Azamali
    2018-10-22 12:25

    Table of Contents1 Why can’t I find a four-leafed clover?Links between nature and mathematics2 Which way should I go?From postmen to taxi drivers3 How many people watch Coronation Street?Most public statistics come from surveys, but how reliable are they?4 Why do clever people get things wrong?Sometimes experience and intelligence can be a disadvantage5 What’s the best bet?Lotteries, horses and casinos all offer the chance of a big prize6 How do you explain a coincidence?Coincidences aren’t as surprising as you would think7 What’s the best view of Nelson’s column?Everyday geometries, from snooker to statues8 How do you keep a secret?Code-making and breaking isn’t just for spies9 Why do buses come in threes?Travelling without a car leads to all sorts of conundrums10 What’s the best way to cut a cake?Why four o’clock can be the time for some mathematical headaches11 How can I win without cheating?Almost everything in life can be analysed as a game12 Who’s the best in the world?The mathematics behind sports rankings14 What happened to chapter 13?Can bad luck be explained?15 Whodunnit?Everyday logic, from murder mysteries to parliamentary debates16 Why am I always in traffic jams?Motorways, escalators and supermarkets all have one thing in common: queues17 Why are showers too hot or too cold?From squealing microphones to population explosions18 How can I get the meal ready on time?Critical paths and other scheduling problems19 How can I entertain the kids?Numbers can be magic

  • Pep Bonet
    2018-10-25 06:09

    This is not the book which will change your life. But many people will enjoy it. It runs a great risk, common to all books intended to approach mathematics (other times it might be sciences) to the general public. Indeed, it's not easy to hit the right level: many tend to vary from simple to complicated and vice-versa, thus confusing the reader. Why do buses come in threes is clearly for the low-end, a knowledgeable reader with no particular training in mathematics. Most of the facts told are knwon, if you have read other similar books or you are strong in mathematics. But the packaging is elegant, funny, and many of the facts are less known. I always like in such books the section on probabilities, because it shows how badly they have been taught for years, while the general ignorance about them leads many people to believe in coincidences, supranatural powers,etc and to make wrong decisions. One particular chapter makes the book different from others, the one on magics played with numbers.My recommendation: read it as a pastime whenever you are tired of novel. Or of German philosophy!

  • Maurizio Codogno
    2018-11-12 06:21

    Primo libro di una serie piuttosto fortunata (in Italia sono stati tradotti dalle edizioni Dedalo, questo in particolare col titolo Probabilità, numeri e code, vedi ) questo testo vuole raccontare, come dice il suo sottotitolo, la matematica nascosta nella vita di tutti i giorni. I primi capitoli del libro sono un po' deboli, ma poi gli autori ingranano e il risultato è davvero piacevole, sia per lo stile di scrittura con il famoso humour britannico che per i temi trattati. Potrete finalmente scoprire come mai capita sempre che il bus nella direzione opposta passi prima del vostro, oppure perché a volte ci sono gli ingorghi senza alcun incidente, o ancora imparerete alcuni giochi di prestigio matematici. Curiosità: il capitolo 13 non esiste, e il 14 si intitola appunto "dov'è finito il capitolo 13?" Trovo anche adatta la scelta di presentare alcune formule matematiche complesse, naturalmente senza la dimostrazione di come si ricavano; in questo modo il lettore può essere introdotto all'analisi qualitativa dei risultati, cosa generalmente utile nella vita di tutti i giorni ma che spesso non viene insegnata a scuola.

  • Wayne McCoy
    2018-11-14 10:19

    'Why Do Buses Come in Threes?' shows how common questions can be solved with mathematics. That it does it in a very accessible and fun way is where it succeeds.Taking questions like the book title's or others like why it's so hard to find a four-leaf clover, the book delves into all sorts of things. From fibonacci numbers to code making, a lot of ground is covered. The chapters are short and digestible. There are mathematic formulas and illustrations. It's all engaging and shows how math can help with all sorts of things in everyday life whether we realize it or not. The book finishes with a series of magic tricks you can learn that are all based on math tricks.Rob Eastaway and Jeremy Wyndham have done a great job with this book. There is also a forward by Tim Rice, in which he shows the connection between pop charts and musical composition and math. A fun tour of an otherwise difficult subject.I was given a review copy of this ebook by Pavilion Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this ebook.

  • Marjolein
    2018-11-16 08:25

    READ IN ENGLISH Read all my reviews on I received a free copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review, thank you!Come to think about it; Why do buses come in threes? Except, they don't. Buses usually come in twos. Read this book and you might just find out why this makes you won't have to wait as long for your next bus...This book features some interesting question, like how to cut a cake in 8 with only three cuts, and exactly how rare are two children in one class sharing a birthday?It doesn't matter if you're interested in (reconnecting with) maths, or just want to know some facts to impress your friends, you'll find this book interesting to read. At least, it worked for me. :)

  • Kari
    2018-10-31 09:22

    You have probably seen some of those math problems on Facebook where people are outraged at how their children are being taught through Common Core. Besides being totally out of context, those people are missing the fact that the problems are focusing on number sense, understanding how numbers work and how they fit together. This book is basically about number sense and how it applies in the real world, covering things like cooking and traffic and botany. It reminded me of The I Hate Mathematics Book by Marilyn Burns, which I loved as a kid. I could definitely see a teacher or a parent talking about these ideas with kids.

  • Richard
    2018-11-16 13:28

    I've recently picked up and re-read this book as a nice little way to switch off before bed time. The premise is the analyse how mathematics can be used to give insight in to common experiences such as the bunching of buses (apparently it is extremely unusual for three buses to bunch together, and requires a very long route and lots of passengers).Covering a range of topics from probabilities to why clever people get things wrong, this is a great introduction to the subject with only a smattering of formulae, all of which are well explained.

  • Paul
    2018-10-28 07:12

    Review written: sometime before 9th May, 2015Why Do Buses Come in Threes? by Rob EastawayWhy I read it: It was in a Kindle sale and I was curious.Rating: 2/5What I thought: While it featured quite a lot of things I hadn’t previously known about mathematics, it also featured quite a lot of things I was already aware of. As well it never delved into enough detail on its topics for my tastes, and also had this weirdly elitist sceptical tone running through it, which was a bit of a turnoff for me.

  • Jennifer
    2018-11-17 06:17

    Great little book introducing and explaining fascinating maths concepts and theories. Entertaining and accessible to anyone. My only complaint is a couple of places where the maths is brushed over or ignored on the way to an equation or result. Perhaps if the writers were afraid mathematical derivations would make the book less easy to read these could have be included in an appendix for those of us interested in how to get to the result? But overall a brilliant read.

  • Natasa
    2018-10-24 12:09

    I enjoyed reading this book very much. This was not only because it made me think about different Maths problems, but also because it allowed me to see how different everyday events can be described in equations. I loved the final chapter about Maths and magic tricks and I fully endorsed the closing remark about Maths, i.e. that it is not about calculations, but about noticing patterns and asking yourself why they occur. :)

  • Martin
    2018-11-15 13:25

    Crazily fun and exhilarating, solves a whole bunch of every day problems and clarifies matters that have bugged me my whole life. I now understand traffic, why two people in a room of 30 will share a birthday, why the London Underground design is ingenious, how pi and e and phi can be applied constantly, and of course, why it's efficient to start the shower before disrobing instead of vice-versa. Life-changing eye-opener to say the least.

  • ReviewingOnline
    2018-10-29 07:30

    I love reading and can often be found with my head in a book, although I tend to stick to fiction books, therefore I was worried I would find a non-fiction maths book uninteresting. However, this book completely changed my opinion...Read more of my review at:

  • Paul
    2018-11-02 11:22

    Interesting read. Got lost with some of the Maths. Nevertheless, It's interesting to see how Maths is applied in every day life, although I feel that some of the examples in the book are more observations. Having said that, wonder if more daily examples could be used and see how Maths could be applied.

  • Paolo Irrera
    2018-11-20 06:08

    A funny book. If you work with maths, you will probably appreciate the ability of the writer in addressing complex subjects in a clear way.Although, I am not sure that someone who does not understand or rather like maths will enjoy the reading.

  • Sudar Muthu
    2018-11-14 05:07

    The major thing that I learned from this book is that some times common sense (or intuition) may not be correct. It is either your brain trying to do an approximation (and failing miserably) or some clever marketer who is using statistics to lie to you

  • Shallowreader VaVeros
    2018-11-03 08:08

     This book is on maths in nature and the built environment. I really enjoyed the 3 chapters I got to read but I had to return it before I completed it. I will definitely be borrowing it to finish it. Great read!

  • Jay Curtin
    2018-11-06 12:05

    this was set in a patronising tone that made it boring & oversimplifiedalso I couldn't figure out the target audience, but I knew most of the problems that came up

  • Mostafa
    2018-11-21 08:18

    Entertaining read for people who fear math or have been away from it for a long time.

  • Wilton314
    2018-11-02 06:26

    I liked it. It explains things in easy to understand terms.

  • Shannon Zirkle-prabhakar
    2018-11-01 12:11

    I registered a book at!

  • Schrodingersduck
    2018-11-15 12:22

    Was what opened up my interest in maths all those years ago.

  • Björn
    2018-10-28 05:27

    More basic maths than I had expected, but still a fun read.