Synopsis and Review #1


The Man Who Counted is a book that follows two men named Beremiz Samir and Malba Tahan, on their journey to Baghdad. Beremiz is a very smart mathematician who can solve even the most complex math problems. Beremiz and Malba travel town to town helping others with their mathematical problems. One example is that of three brothers who were left 35 camels by their father. Half is to be left to the oldest, 1/3 to the middle, and 1/9 to the youngest. The brothers could not figure out how to do this so Beremiz came up with a solution. He had Malba donate his camel to the dead man's estate so that there are a total of 36 camels, and then gives 18, 12, and 4 camels to the three heirs. Of the two that are left, one is returned to Malba, and then one is claimed by Beremiz for helping them out. The book is filled with many examples like this, each chapter having a new problem for Beremiz to solve. It is kind of a slow read, but you find out some pretty interesting things, like you can make any number using 4 fours. Overall, it is an okay book, but is good to show kids how mathematics can be used to solve real life problems. I would recommend this book to either middle school or high school math students.

Synopsis and Review #2


The Man Who Counted had its interesting moments. The story follows the travels of two men in the Middle East--one of which, Beremiz (The Man Who Counted) is extremely quick with numbers, patterns, and calculations. He obtained this skill by working as a shepherd and always needing to know if all his sheep were safe and in the same place. One example of his extraordinary talent is as follows: A skeptic did not fully believe that Beremiz was as wise or quick with numbers as he had claimed. The skeptic challenged the man who counted to count the number of birds in a cage. Beremiz took little time to come up with the answer (somewhere near 600--I don't have my book with me right now or I'd have an exact number). He then explained in depth the intricate properties of this number as well as its mathematical oddities and principles. Throughout the book, Beremiz uses his skill to make new friends, obtain new things, and expand his social status, as well as teach others the importance of mathematics. In general, the book was difficult to follow at times because of the region in which the stories originated. Some of the words were very unfamiliar and unexplained--they left me wondering what was happening at times. However, the examples of sheer brilliance in mathematics were very entertaining, especially to someone who has grown up loving numbers and their intricacies--how and why they work. I'm not quite through the book yet, but I will most likely finish it this summer (in 2 weeks!!!!!!)

Summary of Class or Student Activity


As far as a required reading assignment, I don't necessarily think this would be the best reading material for a middle or high school mathematics class. However, I think some of the problems that Beremiz solves could be used as bell-work/introductory problems to start out the class period. For example, Brett talked about the problem that you can make any number using 4 fours. This problem could be presented to the students and have them work in groups to find as many of these calculations as possible in a certain amount of time. The problem with the 3 brothers and their inheritance of camels could also be presented to the students in groups. These examples would help show that math isn't just numbers on a page, but can be used in real life in certain situations.
















Contributors:

Brett Montgomery, Chase Helmling: Synopsis and Review #1
Jordan Smith: Synopsis and Review #2, Summary of Class or Student Activity