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Calculus of Happiness: How a Mathematical Approach to Life Adds Up to Health, Wealth, and Love

by Oscar Fernandez Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 176 pages
AU$56.99 NZ$59.12
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What's the best diet for overall health and weight management? How can we change our finances to retire earlier? How can we maximize our chances of finding our soul mate?  


In The Calculus of Happiness, Oscar Fernandez shows us that math yields powerful insights into health, wealth, and love. Using only high-school-level math (precalculus with a dash of calculus), Fernandez guides us through several of the surprising results, including an easy rule of thumb for choosing foods that lower our risk for developing diabetes (and that help us lose weight too), simple "all-weather" investment portfolios with great returns, and math-backed strategies for retiring earlier and finding our soul mate. Moreover, the important formulas are linked to a dozen free online interactive calculators on Fernandez's website, allowing one to personalize the equations.  


Fernandez uses everyday experiences - such as visiting a coffee shop - to provide context for his mathematical insights, making the math discussed more accessible, real-world, and relevant to our daily lives. Every chapter ends with a summary of essential lessons and takeaways, and for advanced math fans, Fernandez includes the mathematical derivations in the appendices.  


A nutrition, personal finance, and relationship how-to guide all in one, The Calculus of Happiness invites you to discover how empowering mathematics can be.

Preface ix
Math Topics Covered by Chapter xiii
I: A Healthier You Is Just a Few Equations Away 1
1 How Many Calories Should You Eat Each Day? 3
1.1 The Linear Functions Hidden in Your Diet 4
1.2 The Mathematics of Metabolism 8
1.3 Burn Those Calories! Work Those Quads! 11
1.4 The Calories Required to Digest Food 14
2 Live Longer (and Be Healthier) by Eating the Right Foods 20
2.1 A Game of Macronutrient Musical Chairs 20
2.2 How to Eat More and Be Healthier: Energy Density 29
2.3 Live Long(er) and Prosper with theWaist-Height Ratio 34
II: A Mathematician’s Guide to Managing Your Money 41
3 Dissecting Your Monthly Budget 43
3.1 The Return of the King (the Linear Function) 44
3.2 To Expenses, and Beyond! 49
3.3 How Many YearsWill It Take You to Reach Financial Independence? 62
4 How to Beat Wall Street at Its Own Game 69
4.1 How to Make 15% a Year, Guaranteed 70
4.2 The Safest Investments 71
4.3 Quantifying Investment Risk and Return 73
4.4 Stocks, Bonds, and the “All-Weather” Portfolio 77
III: Looking for Love? There May Be an Equation for That 87
5 Finding “The 1” 89
5.1 What the Search for Aliens Can Teach You about FindingYour Soulmate 89
5.2 Why Hiring a Secretary Is Like Dating 92
5.3 The Stable Matching Problem 97
6 Living Happily Ever After with “The 1” 103
6.1 Your Relationship as a Dynamical System 104
6.2 Need Help Making a Joint Decision? There’s an Equation for That 108
6.3 How Psychologists Use Math to Predict Divorce 113
Epilogue 118
Acknowledgments 120
Appendix A: Background Content 121
Appendix 1 123
Appendix 2 128
Appendix 3 130
Appendix 4 141
Appendix 5 143
Appendix 6 144
Bibliography 151
Index 157

"With its appealing informal style, choice of topics inspired by everyday life, and links to the relevant mathematical concepts and methods, this book shows how mathematics can improve one's quality of life. From healthy eating to managing the monthly budget, readers will look at their daily activities from an angle they may have never thought of."'Max Alekseyev, The George Washington University
Oscar E. Fernandez is assistant professor of mathematics at Wellesley College and the author of Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us. He also writes about mathematics for the Huffington Post and on his website,