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It All Adds Up

The Story of People and Mathematics

by Mickael Launay Author · Stephen S. Wilson Translator


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THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER A brief history of the mathematical ideas that have forever changed the world and the everyday people and pioneers behind them. Full of anthropological insights, amazing anecdotes and theory, It All Adds Up charts the story of our best invention yet. From our ability to calculate the passing of time to the algorithms that control our computers and much else in our lives, numbers are everywhere. They are so indispensable that we forget just how fundamental they are to our way of life. In this international bestseller, Mickaël Launay mixes history and anecdotes from around the world to reveal how mathematics became pivotal to the story of humankind. It is a journey into numbers with Launay as a guide. In museums, monuments or train stations, he uses the objects around us to explain what art can reveal about geometry, how Babylonian scholars developed one of the first complex mathematical languages, and how 'Arabic' numbers were adopted from India. It All Adds Up also tells the story of how mapping the trajectory of an eclipse has helped to trace back one of the oldest battles in history, down to its day, how the course of the modern-day Greenwich Meridian was established, and the fact that negative numbers were accepted just last century. This book is a vital compendium of the great men and women of mathematics from Aristotle to Ada Lovelace, which demonstrates how this discipline shaped the written word and world. With clarity, passion and wisdom, the author unveils the unexpected and at times serendipitous ways in which big mathematical ideas were created; supporting the belief that – just like music or literature – maths should be accessible to everyone, Launay gives readers a newfound fondness for the numbers that surround us and the rich stories they contain.

Publication Details

HarperCollins Publishers
William Collins
Publication Date:


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Mickael Launay (Author)

Mickaël Launay graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure Ulm in 2009 with a degree in maths. He holds a PhD in probability and curates the Micmaths YouTube channel, which has garnered 18.5 million views and on which he has over 263,000 subscribe...

More about Mickael Launay
It All Adds Up
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