X and the City: Modeling Aspects of Urban Life
This book is a leisure reading of different aspects of urban life which can be modeled mathematically. It tries to make accessible to an average reader a collection of arguments for analysing daily questions with elementary mathematical tools.
Examples of questions appearing on the book are: how many restaurants are in a city of a given size? should we walk or run under the rain? how much a car in a dense traffic slows down the other cars? how fast cities grow depending on the available resources? how many people have ever lived in London through time? among many others.
It is very interesting how the author makes inferences without statistical real data, just gessing. And the good thing is that at least the order of magnitude of the results obtained are very likely to be correct. These mathematical problems are solved with elementary computations, accessible to undergraduate students, and even many of them to high school mathematics. The book focuses in estimations, rounding off numbers very often. This point of view is very interesting for a young reader, and it is the main
strength of the book. In general terms, the problems analysed by the book are treated in a shallow way, with very simple answers,
and not entering into very sophisticated mathematical models. Some of the later chapters (e.g. those on analysis of traffic
flows) are of higher mathematical level and require some basic knowledge of differential equations.
The book may be recommended to undergraduate students who are yet to be convinced that mathematics appear in more places than a non-math inclined person may expect. However, anyone acquainted with higher mathematical background may find it a bit boring.