The Manga Guide to Linear Algebra, Shin Takahashi, Trend-Pro Co, Ltd.

Recently I’ve been struggling to recall the maths I learnt in school so I’ve been looking at books that can help with that. Algebra was never a strong point. I’ve also been doing a lot of graphics programming, and I know that linear algebra is relevant for that topic. I picked this book because I was curious about whether you could teach a complex subject like maths using manga – and because I thought perhaps it might help!

The book is divided into two types of styles within each chapter. At the beginning of each chapter is the comic book manga style and then a more formal ‘book’ style that backs up the rest of the chapter and provides further explanation and examples.

The book introduces Reiji, a maths book writing student who agrees to teach pretty fellow student Misa linear algebra in exchange for karate lessons with her brother. The story provides the background to each of the lessons with Misa. And of course there is a happy ending!

The book moves very quickly from the basics into pretty complex stuff. It’s essential to read the text book parts of the chapter to get the understanding of the concepts. In some cases I found the text book parts easier to understand. I liked the comics style a lot, and can see how the idea of someone explaining it to you (or someone else in this case) makes it easier to follow than the usual dry book form.

I think to get the most of out of the book you really need to be actively interested in the topic, either because you are studying it now, expect to study it, or have done in the past and want a refresher. The book is less helpful for people like myself who don’t have the solid maths background you’d need. I got some things from the book, but to be honest failed to get others, but I don’t think that is a reflection of something lacking from the book, just lacking from my own knowledge.

I did enjoy the style of the book a great deal though and it looks like there are others in the series that are a better match for my skills and interests.

Find out more about the book at the O’Reilly product page.

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