The Calculus of Friendship

Steven Strogatz, my graduate school advisor, just released a wonderful book entitled The Calculus of Friendship. It’s about Steve’s thirty-year-long friendship with his high school math teacher, told through the letters they wrote to each other. But here’s the catch: while the stories of both Steve’s and Mr. Joffray’s lives are recounted in the book (and so much happened in both of their lives), there is scant mention of any of this in their letters to each other. The letters are just a collection of math problems.

And that’s one of main themes running through the book: men don’t share their feelings (though they should); they share math. It’s a memoir, told through letters of equations. But please don’t let the calculus scare you away. It’s a moving and powerful story, and while the math can be skipped, it actually enriches the story.

Here’s the trailer, with Steve telling more about the book:

And here’s a long video of Steve being interviewed by Alan Alda about the book (they’re good friends).