What does Eugenia Cheng have in common with Thomas Jefferson and Descartes? Well they all believe in first principals, truths held to be self-evident. Yet Cheng is much more fun to read (or listen to) when she drifts away into cooking or engaging friends over a cocktail. Of course, she is dead serious when she uses the rules of logic to go from those first principals to a conclusion that also must be true. She sees math as an adventure, like cooking and she awakens the reader’s curiosity to new concepts like category theory. New ideas are just fine if they don’t cause a contradiction or an upset stomach.
Throughout How to Bake Pi, she helps the reader gain understanding of concepts like abstractions, generalizations, and axioms, particularly as they relate to math (or cooking). I found Cheng’s book both enlightening and a pleasure to read. And check out The New York Times review.