UHV faculty members publish book about math through magical concepts

Area students and teachers who have attended the University of Houston-Victoria’s annual Math & Robotics Awareness Day know Ricardo Teixeira, a UHV associate professor of mathematics, always has a trick up his sleeve. 

Teixeira enjoys showing those who attend the annual event and others how mathematical equations can be used to perform magic tricks. Now, area residents can learn the tricks and the math behind the illusions through the book “Mathemagics: A Magical Journey through Advanced Mathematics” by Teixeira and Jang Woo Park, a UHV assistant mathematics professor. The book recently was published by World Scientific Publishing.

Ricardo Teixeira
Ricardo Teixeira

“We are both really proud of this book,” Teixeira said. “World Scientific Publishing is a prestigious company, and it is exciting to have this book published and hopefully rekindle students’ excitement for math.”

Mathemagics: A Magical Journey through Advanced Mathematics” presents more than 60 different magic tricks while introducing readers to higher-level math, such as linear algebra, number theory and numerical analysis. This book is geared toward advanced high school students and college students. 

Readers will learn ideas that will better prepare them for future math courses in higher education and help them find areas they might like to study further, Teixeira said. Each chapter is independent and covers a different area of math. After the reader finishes the first chapter, he can choose any chapter to learn about different areas of math and tricks using certain math concepts. Each trick is taught by a magician named Gisele and her assistant, Arthur, who are named after Teixeira’s daughter and his late father.

Some of the magic tricks are original and created by Teixeira, while others are based on tricks done by famous magicians such as Criss Angel and the duo Penn & Teller. There also are some magic tricks in the book popularized by the late mathematician Martin Gardner.

The book is not so much a how-to book about magic but a unique way to help students learn and understand different areas of advanced math.

Jang Woo Park

Math is an important subject that many people are excited to learn about when they are in elementary school, but once students get into middle school and high school, they lose that excitement, Park said. 

“People just see math as a difficult subject,” Park said. “But when you use a more approachable topic, like magic – this fun thing – we can actually introduce math to people without so much anxiety.”

Beverly Tomek

Each chapter also has a list of exercises with about 30 questions so that the reader can test his understanding and knowledge. A mathematics professor also could use the book in a classroom or a seminar course to help open students’ minds to different areas of math, Teixeira said. 

“It is exciting to see such an interesting interpretation of math come to life through this book,” said Beverly Tomek, interim dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “Doctor Teixeira and Doctor Park did an excellent job explaining mathematical concepts and turning them into an enjoyable experience for curious students.”

Mathemagics: A Magical Journey through Advanced Mathematics” is available to purchase through World Scientific Publishing, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Amber Aldaco