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Goal: To Right Mathematical Wrongs!

August 2, 2010

Nothing annoys me more than incorrect statements in textbooks. Well, the text book I am using in my design class had a section on the golden ratio. One of the sentences stated, “The irrational number 21/34 is approximately 0.618 and is represented by the Greek letter Π.”

This is soooooooo wrong! Not a single statement in that sentence is correct.

So, I wrote the following email to whom I believe are the publisher. I’m not sure if it was the publisher. The email in the book gave me a failure notice return email. So, I check the website in a printed version I had and just emailed the contact us email on that website.

Whom in May Concern:

I am not sure who to contact about this, however, I found a glaring typo in one
of your books and this is the only contact email I could find. I am hoping, if
this is not the correct email address to send this to, whomever receives this
email can forward it to the correct people.

I am currently taking a design class at the Art Institute Online and we are
using the digital version of the following book for our class:

DESIGN BASICS
7th ed.
David A. Lauer
Stephen PentakThe Ohio State University
1111504512

I have a masters degree in mathematics and teach math at the Art Institute of
Charleston. I noticed a HUGE typo in your book concerning the golden ratio in
Chapter 4 page 11 (printed page 85).

It states: “The irrational number 21/34 is approximately 0.618 and is
represented by the Greek letter [pi].”

Every fact in that statement is incorrect!

The following are the three reasons it is incorrect.

1. 21/34 is not an irrational number. An irrational number by definition cannot
be written as a fraction. Therefore, since this is a fraction (it CAN be written
as a fraction) and is not irrational. *See note.

2. The golden ratio is NOT .618. It is 1.618.

3. The golden ratio is represented with the Greek letter phi NOT the Greek
letter pi. (I purchased a 5th edition of the book and it is correct in it. It
is  possible this is only incorrect in the digital version.)

*Note: the golden ratio is an irrational number (21/34 is not). The actual
number that represents the golden ration cannot be written as a fraction, but
it  can be approximated by rational (fractional) numbers. A correct
approximation would be 809/500. (There are many different approximations that
can be used;  however, the one given in the book is NOT one of them.)

To correct this statement it should read:
“The golden ratio is an irrational number; however, it can be approximated by
the rational numbers 809/500 and 1.618. The non-approximated golden ratio is
represented by the Greek letter phi.”

If my master’s degree in mathematics and the fact that I teach the math of the
golden ratio in my geometry class are not enough to convince you I am correct,
simply  google “golden ratio” and you will see that I am.

I know this is not a math book and this is not high priority, but it is a text
book and all facts should be correct.

Thank you for you time,
Ashley Godbold

So, thus ends this chapter in my crusade to right mathematical wrongs! I feel very superhero-ish…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 27, 2010 8:25 pm

    those typos blow my mind.

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