Have you noticed that most (advanced) books on mathematics have yellow covers? Why is that?
Is it maybe because Springer has a big market share and they have once upon a time opted for yellow?
Perhaps, but Springer publishes also books on other branches of science, and those do not seem to be of such a uniform color.
Maybe it is because the target audience likes uniformity? Otherwise, I don't know how to demystify this issue.
From a quick scan of my advanced math books, I don't see a predominantly yellow trend, but if I focus only on the Springer books, I definitely do! We could ask Springer why they make all their math books yellow.
I sent the following query to Springer:
"I just have a question out of curiosity. I have quite a few advanced physics and math books from Springer, and I have noticed that, while the physics books come in many colors, almost all the math books are yellow. Is there a reason behind Springer's math texts being yellow?"
Here is the response I got (not satisfying at all!):
"Thank you for your interest in Springer.
As per our responsible colleague, they do not have a response for your query. Springer has printed their Mathematics text books with mostly yellow covers for quite some time now.
Please let us know if you have any further questions or concerns."
i have about 200 math books on my shelf, of which 38 are yellow, all from springer. in the old days it was sometimes suggested to traveling mathematicians that to be recognized at airports by people meeting us, we should carry a yellow springer book in hand! as a remark on the imprecise meaning of "advanced", it is, with some exceptions, the less advanced ones (graduate level) that are yellow, the more advanced ones (research level) being a dull orange.
Yeah, its pretty much just springer books.
But A LOT of popular books are springer books
the old 'studies in logic' books are yellow, there's a special place in my heart for that series
Some of the newer springer books are blue... ?
Just out of curiosity, since you are a professor and have been trained to think mathematically, how long does it take you to cover a book front to back? And have you completed reading the 200 books or do you pick particular sections? Thats a really amazing collection. I am sure you have other books besides Math books? DO you study any of the science fields for pleasure? Ie Physics/Chem?
^^ actually nevermind i was thinking of the ams books, they look kind of similar
i have almost never read a book front to back, and the extremely few I have almost read fully are probably no longer on my shelf, since I have finished with them, e.g. Spivak Calculus. I dip into books at a section that interests me and try to understand that, most recently the chapter on the lie bracket in Spivak's Differential Geometry. This collection of 200 is just what remains after clearing out a hundred or so in order to move here from my old home. I am mostly interested in math and have studied some physics off and on for years, but it never seems to "take". I used to read the works of famous physicists like Einstein and Pauli or Wheeler, but for me physicists have a wonderful intuition I seem to lack, in that they are able to make plausible assumptions needed to understand a given situation. I am bound by what is stated clearly or defined precisely and physics seems more seat of the pants that this. I still recall trying and failing to make a certain deduction claimed as possible in a physics book, then reading that he assumed also " since space is homogeneous..." he has not asserted that could be assumed so of course I did not assume it. I envy physicists their familiarity with that wonderful model, the physical world, since it tells them what to expect as the answer to so many problems. On my shelves, before moving, I had about 300 math books, a few books of physics, foreign languages, history, a book on ancient Chinese ceramics such as tea bowls ( "Hare's fur tortoiseshell and partridge feathers") some anthropology, some 300 works of fiction such as A. Dumas, Victor Hugo, Cervantes, Dickens,..., a few religious or philosophical texts such as Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, the Bible, ...,a rather large old unabridged dictionary, and about 300 classic comic books.
Perhaps it's helpful to share my own experiences, too (I read an awful lot of both math and physics):
I always want to read books from start to finish, but I often end up doing just what mathwonk describes. The books that are most valuable to me, math or physics, I end up eventually completing, but not in order. I read and re-read this section and that, depending on what I'm working on at the time, and supplement with other readings when I get stuck. Knowledge is more like a web than a straight line.
The skipping around thing is, in my case, due to the practical needs of research. It's also fun, though, to read things that have nothing to do with a particular problem. And then I tend to read things in order. I read Landau and Lifshitz's Mechanics that way (and what a book!). Finally, I find it very pleasant, once I've seen everything in a book, and if it's well written, to go back and read it from start to finish.
This is how it usually turns out when you're in school, and it's I find it difficult because I absolutely hate reading books out of order. I always get the feeling by skipping a chapter or two I'm missing out on extremely important knowledge. It's like book OCD.
I wonder if , with all new discoveries in neurology, cognition, etc. we may find a way of storing and representing information for humans that can be accessed and absorbed more easily than books can be absorbed.
That is rather surprising to me since I thought that (at least from my experience with books like Rudin, Diestel, and Hoffman/Kunze) mathematics books aim for the pedagogical order, and each chapter is hard to decipher without the exposition of preceding chapters. I like to pick a random book in the mathematics library and read the interesting chapters or sections, but I also found that sometimes it is hard to learn the topics since they assume that a reader is already familiar with previous chapters.
Neither have I. There are always those too basic chapters at the beginning, or those too specialized (read: could not care less) chapters in the middle, or those too advanced (for the aim I had in mind when I bought the book) at the end that I could not bring myself to bother reading.
I guess that's normal: a book reflect the author's point of view on the matter, so I am not surprised I might not be interested in certain details of their personal interpretation.
On the other hand, I do not think I have ever studied anything on a single book. I always try to get several points of view on a given subject. So that at the end, I am reading the equivalent of a full book spread onto several author's works. Get the (subjective) best from the best.
A quote from https://arxiv.org/abs/1108.1791
"Complexity also differs from computability in the diversity of mathematical techniques used: while initially complexity (like computability) drew mostly on mathematical logic, today it draws on probability, number theory, combinatorics, representation theory, Fourier analysis, and nearly every other subject about which yellow books are written."
In Germany phone books are yellow. Maybe mathematicians like yellow covers, because there are so many numbers in phone books?
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