The gentle man who taught infinity
Sheshagiri K.M

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Synopsis

Nearly 30 years after they have parted ways, a student suddenly remembers his math teacher from school days. As he starts writing about him, he is surprised to discover how much he remembers the math he was taught many, many years ago. Gradually, as everything comes back, he ends up writing a full narrative.

At the heart of this narrative is Channakeshava, the gentle teacher who took his students on a roller coaster ride of the world of mathematics. Beyond the school syllabus, sterile textbooks and mind numbing examinations, Channa introduced his students to the works of great mathematicians like Euclid, Gauss, Bhaskaracharya, Cantor and Euler.

In The gentle man who taught infinity, we journey with Channa and cross the Seven Bridges of Konigsberg, play with the intriguing Barber's Paradox, understand why mathematicians took nearly 350 years to solve Fermat's Last Theorem and explore the paradoxes of infinity.

Using storytelling to great effect, this remarkable teacher showed that mathematics is very much a human endeavor. It need not be the drudgery that we make of it, in our mad pursuit of marks and grades. Instead, the learning of math can be fun, meaningful and fulfilling.

As the narrative unfolds, teacher and taught, subject and craft all get intertwined and result in a fascinating story.

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Reviews by the community

Manjula Nair

Great idea and a very well written book. I think the book will be stronger if you shorten the introduction and put the childhood details as a postscript. The portions with Channa are very good, he is a real star and the story should ideally start with him.

Apr 18 '15
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Roopa

This book jolts the reader in to questioning the fundamental way in which we consumerists live. Time to see joy in everything including Math.

Apr 16 '15
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Surendra Mohanty

A very nicely written book. The author is certainly a math enthusiast, and in all probability a math wizard too. This book is a tribute to his teacher who left an indelible impression on his mind. I wonder how the book will go on from here. I remember my math teacher telling me that parallel lines are those that meet at infinity. Upto chapter 3 no word has been said about infinity, though the title has the word. Either infinity should be brought in a convincing manner in the opening chapters or the title could be suitably altered.
The foreword is too long. It need not be so descriptive. And yes, calling father by name, didn't go with me too well. Other informalities are ok. I thought only Americans had crossed this limit of informality. Thanks for a bloody good read. Surendra

Mar 28 '15
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Sudhansu M Nayak

Dear Sheshagiri,
I don't know if there is a word in english for this- 'toggle'is not the right word. Let me try: The way you have played with the words, I wanted to jump to the next paragraph in anticipation of knowing more and then come back to re-read what I had read and again go but not to the point where I had initially left but even further to see where the damn mystery is heading; to be surprised again and come back :-) And feeling like a child all the while. I thank you for that. Your snippets on Bangalore also make me visit the city soon. I have pleasant memories.
I echo Uday's comments. All the best. I will wait for the book.

Warm regards
Sudhansu

Mar 20 '15
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urmimala

The book will be liked by millions - Why ? Because very few are fortunate to have a teacher like Channa, and thus end up hating maths. I am one of the math haters. And if I say I like it ...loved it I really mean. This book is truly beautiful, as it made me do sums and more importantly solve them with interest and curiosity. The style is wonderful, liked "US of A". The author also speaks well about parental anxiety. I wondered why my maths teacher did not explain the essence of axiom as Channa did. He is truly a wonderful teacher. All that I would say it is a very good conspiracy of the universe. Waiting to read more.

Mar 11 '15
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Damini Majumdar

If I am asked to describe this book in a single word- different is the word I'd choose. I haven't read any book like this before, a book so thoroughly engrossing! It hardly seems to be a memoir (as the genre is specified)- reading this one was so much fun! It inquires, answers questions and kindle your interest in Mathematics (even if you're not much fond of the subject). It even evoked some of my childhood memories of learning mathematics- both in school and at home where my father used to teach me simple yet fun tricks for solving problem.
A really pleasant reading experience!

Mar 07 '15
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Suman Chhabria Addepalli

I like the concept - both the idea writing the book about mathematics by stressing on the the methodology used by the teacher Channa excited me a lot as a reader. Even the cover and book title - The Gentleman who taught me infinity, holds huge promise of unraveling something the reader has never imagined. The copy is clean, and looks like the writer has taken pains on this one. However, as a reader- I found too much of technicality - too many sums and axioms. There was a good structure, but again the chapters were too long, and the wait to find something meaningful/delighful/funny required me to go through huge lengths of copy. The author writes very well, and should work at making his copy tighter. It is a promising subject, but not ready for publishing at the moment, in my humble opinion.

Mar 03 '15
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Kishen Bhagavan

Well written and researched. Channa was my math teacher who I admired and still respect. Thanks for the good read.

Feb 27 '15
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Uday Satpathy

A gem of a book. First of all, kudos to Sheshagiri for exploring a niche area - mathematics. I have been fascinated by mathematics since my childhood and this book did whet my appetite. One suggestion, if I am allowed to make - Please hide the narrator's commentary to make the story flow faster. As a reader, I would prefer this book to be a child's experiences with mathematics and the teacher who taught it. Remember the movie - Dead Poets Society? I would love if your book goes that way. The bildungsroman way. Sad to award 4 stars to a potentially 5-star book.

Feb 26 '15
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Deepak Kaul

Wonderful book. Must read by all teachers.

Feb 25 '15
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Niyati Shinde

Maths was never my favorite subject in school!! Wonder why i started reading this book, but good thing i did! Loved the way the professor explains complex maths stuff in simple terms. Wish i had a prof. like this... Although it takes more than a few pages for the prof. to enter into the storyline, I am hooked! would love to read further... :-)

Feb 16 '15
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About the author

Sheshagiri K.M Follow

I'm a passionate and down to earth guy working with the United Nation's Children's Fund in Chhattisgarh. I've just finished writing a book on my inspiring math teacher from school days...