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“Street-Fighting Mathematics” Book Released by North End Resident

A new book by North Ender, Sanjoy Mahajan, has just been released and is being featured today on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s website. The book is, “Street-Fighting Mathematics, The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving.”

The MIT news article explains:

“Given its practical focus, Street-Fighting Mathematics is not organized around traditional math topics, such as differential equations, but ways of thinking: reasoning by analogy, visualizing geometric problems, and more. Readers can then answer all manner of questions: Guessing the number of babies in the United States, calculating the bond angles in methane, or determining the drag that air exerts on a 747.”

Sanjoy Mahajan
Sanjoy Mahajan

Dr. Mahajan, a resident living in the North End with his family, teaches this type of coursework at MIT where he is associate director for teaching initiatives at MIT’s Teaching and Learning Laboratory. Sanjoy is also the current Treasurer of the North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association.

The book is available on where a reviewer says:

“This type of book addresses a serious gap in American math-science education. Learning techniques for approximation allows one to tackle the sort of ill-posed problems one is most likely to encounter in the real-world. It is also intimately tied to recognizing the salient features of a problem, such as the physical principles involved in a physics problem or the most questionable assumption in an economic model. Street-Fighting Math deserves a wide readership and will hopefully influence other math-science teachers and authors.”

The book jacket also offers this description:

“In Street-Fighting Mathematics, Sanjoy Mahajan builds, sharpens, and demonstrates tools for educated guessing and down-and-dirty, opportunistic problem solving across diverse fields of knowledge—from mathematics to management. Mahajan describes six tools: dimensional analysis, easy cases, lumping, picture proofs, successive approximation, and reasoning by analogy. Illustrating each tool with numerous examples, he carefully separates the tool—the general principle—from the particular application so that the reader can most easily grasp the tool itself to use on problems of particular interest.

Click to read the full MIT article.

Click to view the book’s page on